MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – After years of talk, there may soon be some action on the proposed I-10 bridge over the Mobile River. An environmental impact study is expected to come out in the next two weeks and that could be the beginning to the end of traffic congestion in the Wallace Tunnel.
Right now more than 75 thousand cars pass through the tunnel every day, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. The tunnel was made to handle only 50 thousand cars per day. Planners worry that even if they can get started in the next two weeks, the new bridge would not be built soon enough to prevent holiday-like traffic every day.
Right now there are four options for the bridge include a no build option. The study coming out this month will pick one of those options. Mike Lee, Chair of the Build a Bridge Coalition says the most likely option is one that will expand I-10 to four lanes over the bay. Somewhere around Virginia Street it would split off onto a bridge south of the Wallace Tunnel. That gives drivers two options to cross the Mobile River.
According to Chief ALDOT engineer, Vince Calametti, the bridge is estimated to cost over 850 million dollars.
Engineers predict it would take 4-6 years to build the 215-foot-ttall bridge. That’s five feet taller than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
While this study could be a step in the far direction, it would still be years before commuters would see any traffic congestion relief. If in the next two weeks the Environmental Impact Study gives the okay, the next step is a public hearing with 45 days notice. ALDOT will hold public hearings in both Baldwin and Mobile Counties. Then there would be up to two years of planning and designing. Construction on the bridge would last four to six years.