MOBILE, Ala (WALA) – This week multiple lawmakers have been speaking up about the $2.1 billion price tag for the proposed Mobile River Bridge and Bayway.
Some local lawmakers have brought up the old estimated price for the entire project of $850 million, saying they want ALDOT to go back to that number.
However, ALDOT said the $850 million figure was an estimate from years ago that was very preliminary. They said it did not consider several factors, which is why the estimated cost for the project went up nearly 150 percent.
“The project went from $850 million to $2.1 billion, and I think it's just fair to ask questions,” said State Rep. Matt Simpson.
“I feel we've got a project that's being pushed on us here and I think it's time we the people stand up and say no,” said Jerry Carl, President of the Mobile County Commission.
Since 2014, ALDOT has done more studies and found that the $850 million figure really should have been $1.4 billion. Add in a new Bayway, drainage, interchange work, and factoring in inflation, you get ALDOT’s estimate of $2.1 billion.
“If I don't satisfy the federal highway administration there will be nothing,” said John Cooper, ALDOT’s Transportation Director.
Rebuilding and raising the Bayway has been a huge sticking point. ALDOT said it will cost $350 million to do that.
Lawmakers and those against the toll have questioned why it is necessary, some even saying it is not legally required.
“As an engineer, I’m held to a standard of care and this is the standard of care,” said an ALDOT Consultant at a meeting on Wednesday.
“It's great if you live in a perfect world,” Simpson said. “But to charge the people that try to live in this perfect world that's not feasible.”
“When we say to you we believe the Bayway has to be widened and raised, that's based on years and years and years of experience on dealing with the Federal Highway Administration,” Cooper said.
A federal official tells FOX10 News a state must select a design that reflects risk for structures that encroach on flood plains.
It is unclear if that means the height of the Bayway must be raised or if it is just a recommendation.