Building bridge to alleviate traffic troubles

For more than a decade, Mobile and Baldwin counties have been waiting for the release of the Draft Environment Impact Statement which is the first step in moving forward with plans to build a new I-10 bridge over the Mobile River.

According to the study, the preferred route for the bridge would start at Virginia Street, cross the Mobile River just South of the Mobile Cruise Terminal, continue across Pinto Island and join the center of the Bayway. At that point, the Bayway would be widened to four lanes.

Drivers said right now, traffic is a headache.

“It’s difficult with the beach traffic and if the tunnel has an accident, it’s just impossible,” Amy Baldwin said.

“You’re sitting there waiting and debating. People are honking, people are upset and so forth and so on,” said Eric West.

The route proposed is called B prime and Chief Executive Officer of the Mobile Port Authority, Jimmy Lyons, said it’s a route he fully supports.

“It seems to have the least impact on businesses on either side of the river and provides an adequate height and it’s going to be a fairly steep bridge,” Lyons said.

Height/type of bridge

The proposed bridge will be 490 feet tall which is shorter than the RSA tower in downtown Mobile. It will have a wide top, with a small bottom and a vertical clearance of 215 feet over the Mobile River. To put that into perspective, the golden gate bridge has a 210 foot vertical clearance.

Lyons said the port authority does a lot of business by barge but there are also a lot of “trucks that come in and out of our port facilities, both the container terminal as well as the general cargo terminals”.

More trucks means more jobs for the port authority. But before we get there, you have to build the bridge.

Mike Lee with the Build a Bridge Coalition said the design and engineering phase could take one to two years and we won’t see any construction until that is complete.

“We’re fortunate to be growing rapidly. Lots of new industry but this is one of the biggest hurtles we would face to further economic development,” said Lee.

Drivers sai they’re ready for the project to begin.

“It’s really important to everyone in this area but it’s also important to keep in mind tourism.”

Public hearings will be held on both sides of the bay in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Some groups are already proposing a bicycle/pedestrian path.

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