A town hall meeting by Congressman Bradley Byrne in Prichard Friday morning turned into a lively forum by several dozen people saying "No Tolls" on the new Mobile River Bridge.

The meeting was held in Prichard, but people came from around Mobile and Baldwin counties to talk especially about that one topic.

The tone of the questions for the meeting was set early.

One person said, "We can't afford to pay a 90 dollar toll a month to go back and forth to work."

Another asked, "Can we please take the toll off of the table for a while and look at a real option?"

Congressman Bradley Byrne told the meeting state officials need to examine cutting the cost of the bridge, trying to shrink the project, and need to look at federal grants and other sources of money to pay for it.

Byrne said, "In our initial meeting with ALDOT (the Alabama Department of Transportation), they got in their head they wanted to do tolls, and I said, 'That's not going to work.' "

There were concerns about how tolls would affect people who live in Prichard.

One person asked, "The people who make these decisions for us, do they live here? Until you walk into a man's shoes, you don't know where you're going."

And there were worries about increased traffic in Africatown by people using free routes.

Another person said, "Right now, the traffic is horrendous on Highway 45, so that is a big concern because I know that people, if they can go around a toll fee, this is what they are going to do."

A woman who says she's a disabled veteran living in Robertsdale spoke about going to the VA Clinic in Mobile.

She said, "They start this toll, you know, I need to go probably once a week, and I don't want to pay a toll to go to the only health care that I have."

And she wondered about other veterans living in Baldwin County.

She said, "There are so many veterans that I know, Vietnam veterans and stuff, if they're going to have to pay a toll, you know, they're going to stay at home and they're not going to go and they're not going to have the care that they need.

Congressman Byrne called on Governor Kay Ivey to get directly involved in finding another way to pay for the new bridge, besides a toll.

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