The monumental $2.7 billion Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is officially moving forward, following simultaneous votes by the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization earlier this week. Keep reading to learn more about this project and what’s next.
About the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project
The City of Mobile is located on the Western Shore of the Mobile Bay, while a number of smaller communities—including Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope—are located on the Eastern Shore. Currently, the cities on each side of the bay are connected by two causeways: Interstate 10 (the Jubilee Parkway) and US 90/US 98 (the Battleship Parkway).
However, the current system of bridges and tunnels across the Mobile Bay and Mobile River cause severe traffic congestion. For example, the Interstate 10 route is bottlenecked by the Wallace Tunnel. Opened in 1973, the Wallace Tunnel was designed to carry 35,000 vehicles per day; now, nearly 100,000 vehicles pass through the tunnel on peak days.
In order to alleviate the congestion, ALDOT proposed a cable-stayed bridge spanning the Mobile Bay. However, the plan has received criticism from planning organizations and the public for its use of toll fees and the bridge’s presence in the Mobile skyline. In fact, public opposition killed an earlier proposal of the Mobile Bay Bridge.
New Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is approved
In late June, ALDOT unveiled a comprehensive $2.7 billion plan with a new 215-foot-tall Mobile River Bridge and a new 7.5-mile-long Bayway that meets capacity and safety needs and can be built in five years. According to a press release, the plan includes:
- Free, no-toll routes on the Causeway, Wallace Tunnel, Bankhead Tunnel and Africatown Bridge
- Tolls of $2.50 or less for passenger vehicles, and $18 or less for trucks
- An unlimited use option for $40 per month, which is under $1 per trip for daily commuters between Mobile and Baldwin Counties
- Toll revenue to be used only to pay down project debt, with tolling to end once the debt is paid off
- All infrastructure to be owned and operated by the State of Alabama, with no private concessionaire
- A contribution of at least $250 million in State funding, in addition to $125 million in federal funding through an INFRA Grant
On Wednesday, July 27, the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization both unanimously voted to add the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project to the region’s long-range and short-term transportation plans.
Construction of the new Mobile River Bridge and Bayway could begin in late 2023 and be complete by 2028.
What do you think about the new Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project? Tag us @thebamabuzz to let us know!