It’s a daily occurrence on interstate 10, traffic jams at the tunnels. We’ve all been there, done that, and that’s why many years ago, officials started talking about fixing the problem. Right now, there are four proposed routes for the new 1-10 Mobile River Bridge. Those routes include A, B, B prime and C. Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne said the route favored by most citizens is B prime.
B Prime Bridge proposal
In that proposal, the on-ramp leaves Interstate 10 near Virginia Street. The route then climbs to 215 feet at the Mobile River bank, and crosses the river with a six lane bridge, just below the cruise terminal. However, we won’t see any sign of a bridge until the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) gets the Environmental Impact Statement. It’s a draft the sate has been waiting for, for ten years.
“Enough is enough. This has been going on far too long. We’ve have a problem that’s reached far behind the crisis stage,” Byrne said.
Byrne said not having the bridge is affecting our quality of life and our ability to attract new business.
“It’s just time to put your foot down and say enough of that. We’ve got a major critical choke point on the federal interstate 10 system right here affecting people all along the Gulf Coast and it’s got to be fixed,” he said.
Byrne said citizen groups have expressed concerns about the bridge in the past, but those have sense been resolved. He’s taking an aggressive approach and said he’s reaching out to the secretary of the US Department of Transportation to arrange a meeting.
“I’ve expressed in the clearest possible terms my displeasure with the Federal Highway Administration and not being able to make clearly defined deadlines the last of which, was at their request. I don’t know anything else for me to do other then to put pressure on this, and that’s why I’ve requested the meeting,” Byrne said.
How much will the bridge cost?
The need for the bridge is apparent but how much will it cost? State transportation officials estimate the bridge will cost $850 million dollars, with about 80 percent of the money coming from the federal government.
“It’s fascinating this is happening at the same time we’re having this grand debate in congress how to fund the US highway system. There are a number of congressmen who think the US Government should get rid of funding US highway interstate systems all together,” Byrne said.
Byrne supports the federal funding of government built roads but says it’s taking too long for the Federal Highway Administration to give the green light on the proposed Interstate 10 Mobile River Bridge.
“If we can’t solve these problems, then why are we putting tax payer money in it to begin with? Because it’s not working,” Byrne said.
If the feds fork over the proposed $650 million dollars for the bridge, the rest of that money, $170 million dollars, will have to come from the state and possibly other sources like out of your pocket.
Creating a toll for the bridge?
Byrne said an idea he’s not in favor of is creating a toll.
“You can’t just toll that bridge. We’d have to toll the George Wallace Tunnel, Bankhead Tunnel, and Cochrane Bridge because if we leave those untolled all the traffic goes there and we just created a bottleneck there,” Byrne said.
Of course this is all talk until the environmental impact statement is submitted by the Federal Highway Administration. A statement we’ve been waiting for, for nearly 10 years.
Once that happens, there will be public hearings about the proposed route on both sides of the bay.