The politics behind possible new life for the proposed I-10 bridge project

Nov 24, 2020

A new proposed bridge across Mobile Bay may get a second look from local and state planning officials. The plan was declared dead over a year ago due to tolls needed to pay for the project. A proposal to charge up to $6 to cross Mobile Bay on I-10 killed the plan late last year. Now, officials are discussing the proposal again, but some say local residents will have to have an alternative way to cross the bay without a toll.

Jack Burrell is the chairman of the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO.

“They say there’s only one plan and that’s their plan and I don’t know how they’re going to finance that, but that’s what they said, there’s only one plan,” Burrell said.

Traffic snarls all the time on the four lanes of Interstate 10 crossing Mobile Bay. A new bridge over the Mobile River and expanding the BayWay to eight lanes would cost more than $1 billion. The MPO stopped the bridge plan in 2019 when it removed the project from the local funding list. Burrell said MPO members want to move forward, but residents need a way to cross the bay without paying a fee.

“So I think there might be some hesitation with that because if that plan doesn’t include some toll-free ways across the Bay then that’s still going to be a sticking point, I believe. I’m only speaking for myself, but from what I can gather, I still think that’s going to be a real sticking point for the Eastern Shore MPO,” he said.

An ALDOT spokesman issued a statement Monday saying that the department is always willing to listen to ideas from local officials for a solution because the only way for a project to move forward is with local support.