Eastern Shore MPO approves Mobile River Truck Bridge plans
June 10, 2021
A week after the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization gave the Mobile River Truck Bridge on Interstate 10 the green light, the controversial project crossed another hurdle with the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization.
On Wednesday, June 9, the Eastern Shore MPO passed Resolution 2021-13 and 2021-14. The resolutions approve an amendment to its 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan and 2020-23 Transportation Improvement Plan. The amendments insert the Mobile River Truck Bridge into both the short- and long-term transportation plans for the area.
A solution to solve congestion issues in the area, the Mobile River Truck Bridge requires all trucks more than 46 feet to use the bridge and pay a $15 toll. A bridge dedicated to large trucks will force them off the Wallace Tunnel, which is experiencing severe congestion.
In the original Eastern Shore MPO 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan, the Mobile River Truck Bridge was not factored in. Now that the amendments have been approved, the following proposals for the bridge and Bayway project are within the plan:
- Phase 1: I-10 Mobile River Bridge from Exit 24 (Broad Street) to Mobile County Line ($44.5 million for preliminary engineering and $665 million for construction).
- Phase 2: I-10 Mobile River Bridge (second span), including West Tunnel Interchange improvements ($500 million for construction).
- Phase 3: I-10 Bayway replacement, including East Tunnel, Mid-Bay and U.S. 90/98 interchanges ($1.2 billion for construction).
With approval from both affected MPOs, the Mobile River Truck Bridge project now moves to the Alabama Department of Transportation.
ALDOT will conduct several studies, including one investigating possible tolling scenarios. Also, transportation officials can now seek federal and state funding with the projects officially in the books.
Although local officials want the entire project completed at one time, a funding mechanism is available only for Phase 1. Estimated to cost $675 million, the truck-only bridge will be funded with $125 million in federal funding in addition to $250 million from the state. However, the remaining $300 million would be funded with borrowed money. In this case, that would be repaid by a truck-only toll. In the long term, passenger vehicles will be able to use the bridge and pay more than $2 for the toll.
Phase 2 will build a second span over the Mobile River in addition to improvements to Wallace Tunnel on the west end. That is estimated to cost $500 million. The $1.2 billion phase replaces the Bayway. Specifically, it will meet newer guidelines requiring it to be well above 100-year flood elevation levels. Currently, tolling is planned to partly fund both of those phases as well.
Several years ago, Alabama secured $125 million in federal funding for a project on the Mobile River Bridge. A proposal in 2019 included a $2 billion project that would toll all motorists. That plan was struck down, and Gov. Kay Ivey instructed officials to find a plan that will solve the congestion issue, secure the federal funding and leave existing routes toll free. The Mobile River Truck Bridge proposal is the latest attempt to secure that $125 million in federal money and move forward with the project without tolling passenger vehicles.
For more information about the project, go to MobileRiverTruckBridge.com. LL