ALDOT Announces Mobile River Bridge Financially Viable, Will Move Forward
The Eastern Shore and Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) today announced that the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will be moving forward with the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project, prior to knowing the results of outstanding applications for federal Mega Grant and Bridge Investment Program funding.
In a memo sent to the chairs of the Eastern Shore and Mobile MPOs, ALDOT states:
“ALDOT is moving forward with this project, utilizing funds from the $125 million federal INFRA grant as well as a commitment of at least $250 million in State funding.
“ALDOT and the nationally recognized financial experts working on the project agree that this project is financially viable, regardless of the result of our outstanding applications (filed pursuant to your instructions) for Mega Grant and Bridge Investment Program funding.
“This stronger posture is made possible by improvements in projected traffic and revenue numbers for the project as initial estimates were refined. Further strengthening its financially viability are the recent changes in federal law and regulatory guidance which potentially allow for this project to qualify for higher TIFIA loan amounts.”
ALDOT has determined that it can and must move forward now. Further delay will only make the project more costly and disruptive as traffic congestion increases. ALDOT will continue to pursue funding opportunities with the Department of Transportation but will not delay moving forward pending future grant awards.
“This is fantastic news,” said Eastern Shore MPO chair and Fairhope City Council member Jack Burrell. “We are closer than ever before to the new bridge and Bayway that South Alabama desperately needs. This news, combined with the good progress in selecting the teams that will design and build the project, should be music to the ears of the thousands of drivers who are tired of sitting on the Bayway or in the tunnels.”
“Today’s announcement is a clear signal that the State of Alabama is serious about building this bridge,” said Mobile MPO chair and Mayor of Mobile Sandy Stimpson. Ultimately, we are further along in this process than at any point before and have a clear path toward solving the worst bottleneck on the I-10 corridor.”
“Our region is making transformative improvements to our seaport and airport that will benefit everyone who lives and works in our area, and the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is the linchpin to our continued success,” said Mobile Chamber President and CEO Bradley Byrne. “If we’re going to grow this economy, we have to build the bridge, and I commend the State of Alabama for moving forward with this project.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation Mega Grant program, in addition to the Bridge Investment program, were created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Mega grant program is a highly competitive, national program that includes $1 billion in federal funding that is expected to be allocated this year.
According to ALDOT, the design-build teams who have registered for the project will submit their statements of qualification by December 21, a key milestone in the project’s early phases.
Plan details include:
- A comprehensive plan with a new Mobile River Bridge and a new Bayway that meets capacity and safety needs and can be built in five years
- Free, no-toll routes on the Causeway, Wallace Tunnel, Bankhead Tunnel, and Africatown Bridge
- Toll options of $2.50 or less for passenger vehicles, and $18.00 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
The full memo from ALDOT to the MPO chairs is attached and below.
About the Mobile Chamber
The Mobile Chamber is a private business organization with more than 1,700 members and the economic developer for the City of Mobile and Mobile County. The Mobile Chamber’s focus is to provide members with networking, marketing and professional development opportunities, expand jobs in the area, develop the local workforce, advocate legislative priorities and offer resources to help small businesses grow. Additional information is on the Chamber’s website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.