A local political leader says he's working on a new plan to build a new Mobile River Bridge without a toll.

But there are still some unanswered questions.

Last week, after speaking at a meeting in Orange Beach, Governor Kay Ivey said, "I think everybody would be happy if there were no toll at all, but we have to find a way to pay for the bridge. What do you suggest?"

Monday, Congressman Bradley Byrne said, "We're going to put together a proposal. She's asked for it and I think we should give her that."

Byrne made that announcement before a town hall meeting in Atmore.

He said he wants to meet with legislators to come up with ideas for Governor Ivey, but again suggested using money the federal government pays to states for oil royalties, called "Go Mesa" money.

Byrne said, "Get the scope of the project down, take $125 million dollars in INFRA grant money (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America), bond the GOMESA money, and they can take some of the $800 million dollars the federal government sends to them every year for highways."

When asked if he had a timetable when that proposal might be ready, "Sooner rather than later. A lot sooner rather than later."

Earlier in the day, Byrne held a town hall meeting in Grand Bay where anti-toll proponent and state auditor Jim Zeigler made a request: ask Governor Ivey to stop the toll project, look at state money for funding, and "instead, to look at other funding from a federal infrastructure bill that passed unanimously in a U.S. Senate committee on July 30th."

Those who attended the meeting also expressed their thoughts on tolls.

Fletcher Hayes of Grand Bay said, "It would put too much pressure on the people of this county and Baldwin County and the people of the surrounding area that lives here."

Frank Williamson of Grand Bay said, "Probably necessary to get it built, but I won't be using it so it don't really matter to me."

Penny Garcia of Grand Bay said, "I think the tolls should not be allowed. Our taxes pay our roads."

While we wait to hear more about Congressman Byrne's proposal, Zeigler said there will be a meeting Thursday night sponsored by a group called the Common Sense Campaign so people can talk about how the toll plan would affect their families, and state lawmakers can listen.

All content © 2019, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.

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