3 years ago

Crossing Mobile Bay – a century-old problem for southwest Alabama

 

 

For well over a hundred years, southwest Alabamians have grappled with getting from Mobile across the Mobile Bay to Baldwin County and back, and that is a problem that predates the founding of the state.

If you have made that journey recently, you would know there are a number of ways to cross the bay. Most people use Interstate 10, which includes the Wallace Tunnel to get to a series of bridges known as the Bayway. Some use U.S. 90-98, which consists of the Bankhead Tunnel and the causeway built in 1926.

Another option is the Cochrane–Africatown USA Bridge, the designated truck route, to get to the Causeway or the Bayway via Prichard.

For those with a little more time, you opt to head north on Interstate 65 and cross the “Dolly Pardon Bridge,” then head back south to Spanish Fort. Finally, if you’re feeling up for a scenic excursion, you can head down to Dauphin Island and take a $16 ferry ride to Fort Morgan across the Mobile Bay.

Either way you go, the 400-plus square mile geographic water barrier is evident. And now in 2018, all those routes are inadequate for the area’s transit needs.

In the early days of automobile transportation in Alabama, the primary means to get from Mobile to Baldwin County’s Eastern Shore was by ferry. It was expensive, and that made Baldwin County isolated from Mobile.

From the 1925 Alabama State Highway Department Map

 

In 1927, the Cochrane Bridge, a vertical lift bridge, opened. It connected Mobile to the newly built Causeway, and ultimately ferry transit was no longer needed.

From the State Road Map of Alabama, Fall of 1928

Other east-west means of crossing the Mobile River opened in the decades to follow. The Bankhead Tunnel came in the 1940s, providing a more direct approach than the Cochrane Bridge to the Causeway from downtown Mobile.

From the 1942 Alabama Highway Department road map

In the 1970s, both I-10 and I-65 were completed, offering travelers those two routes from the north and east into the city.

From the Official 1977-78 Alabama Highway Map

The latest addition to crossing the Mobile Bay came in the early 1990s with the cable-stayed Africatown-Cochrane Bridge that replaced the above mentioned Cochrane vertical lift bridge.

Cochrane–Africatown USA Bridge, Mobile, Ala. / Wikipedia

Even with all these means to cross Mobile Bay, traffic is still an issue for the primary route, which is the Interstate 10 Bayway. At the time of the construction, the Eastern Shore cities of Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope in Baldwin County weren’t expected to be the bedroom communities for Mobile that they are today.

Now in addition to the usual east-west traffic that is making the trek on I-10 to points anywhere from Jacksonville, Fla. to Los Angeles, Calif. you have commuters headed back and forth from home to work.

Tuesday in an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) hinted the latest iteration of the solution to crossing Mobile Bay could be part of President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan.

Byrne told host Sean Sullivan that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was familiar with the region’s need for a new crossing but was waiting to see if it would indeed be part of Trump’s plan.

“I can’t give you the precise particulars because we haven’t seen the president’s infrastructure plan,” he said. “But I think you’re going to see the president – we’ll be working with him and the Department of Transportation prioritizing our bridge project because it fits exactly in with what he’s trying to do.”

Given the state would have to offer up a portion of the financing for the bridge, a new I-10 bridge will likely include a toll, Byrne said.

“Yes, it will be [a toll bridge] because the state is trying to come up with its money and the state’s been very clear that they’re going to come up with their money by putting the toll on the bridge.”

If completed as a toll bridge, the new I-10 bridge would be Alabama’s most significant toll project by far.

There are already a few toll bridges in Alabama – bridges crossing the Alabama and Tallapoosa Rivers north of Montgomery, the Joe Mallisham Parkway near Tuscaloosa and the Foley Beach Expressway headed from mainland Baldwin County to Orange Beach.

A new toll I-10 bridge would easily dwarf these projects in size given the amount of traffic it would serve. The latest figures estimate at least 53,000 automobiles in both directions enter in and out of the western side of the Wallace Tunnel daily, and that is likely to increase.

Will this bridge be enough to last at least for the next 100 years?

Given the prior solutions have not lived up to long-term expectations (at least by highway standards in the United States), one has to ask if in the year 2050 the government will once again be seeking another solution.

Whatever the current solution is, it is long overdue. Accidents on I-10 headed in and out of the Wallace Tunnel are a daily occurrence that results in traffic backing up several miles.

Even though it wasn’t a big issue in the last U.S. Senate special election, making a new I-10 bridge priority is something voters in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, the second- and sixth-most populous counties respectively, could be swayed by in the upcoming gubernatorial election later this year.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

14 seconds ago

Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack: ‘Disappointed’ in Doug Jones; Tuberville needed to keep country ‘free,’ ‘strong’

For many voters, especially on the Republican side, the subject of maintaining law and order will be a priority when they cast their ballot in this November’s election.

According to Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack, the issue should be considered, especially when deciding whether to vote in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and his GOP challenger former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Mack told listeners during an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Tuesday it was important for Republicans to maintain control of the U.S. Senate, which put added importance on the Jones-Tuberville match-up.

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“You always look at every election as important,” he said. “I don’t think you can say there is no such thing as an unimportant election. But this one, and in particular our U.S. Senate race, is so important right now. Number one, just from the 3,000-foot view, the Republican Party can gain a seat back in the Senate. And as you know — you follow politics very closely — the Senate is the one body in our United States form of government that has an incredible amount of influence and power as it relates to legislation and to policy, and to funding. So, it is very important that we regain that seat.”

Mack acknowledged his support for Tuberville and expressed his disappointment in Jones, a former U.S. Attorney for the Clinton Justice Department, for his embrace of a “far-left philosophy.”

“From a personal perspective, of course, I’m voting for Tommy Tuberville,” Mack continued. “I hope that Tommy wins the race. When Doug Jones took office, I have to admit, I was a little bit disappointed because I’ve known Doug for years. He was a former United States prosecutor. And I was even familiar with some of the cases he prosecuted in the northern district. Since he has moved to Washington, he seems to have taken on a little bit more of that far-left philosophy in many areas but certainly as they relate to law enforcement. I feel that if we’re going to try to achieve some of the things that law enforcement needs to do to keep our country strong, to keep our country free and abide by the rights of the citizens, we need to elect somebody like Tommy Tuberville to that seat.”

Mack predicted issues of law and order and policing would be among the “top three” issues for voters in the November election, and a more discussed issue than if not ever, then at least since the early 1970s.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

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The two-day virtual summit is open to all Alabamians and will provide tangible takeaways and practical advice on doing business in the current climate.

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19 mins ago

7 Things: Biden selects Kamala Harris as running mate, lawsuit challenging Alabama’s mask mandate dismissed, SEC still wants to play football and more …

7. More funding for mental health programs

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that from some of the funding the state received through the CARES Act, $6 million is going to be sent to community health provider agencies and $1 million for the Alabama Department of Mental Health’s (ADMH) Crisis and Recovery Services program. 
  • ADMH will distribute the $6 million among about 300 agencies eligible for funds. Ivey said in a statement, “Like people around the globe, the people of our state are suffering, and I remain committed to providing the necessary support to get our state and her people back on our feet.”

6. Drop everything and get counted

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  • With a lot a stake for the state of Alabama, it is increasingly important that every Alabama resident take part in the 2020 U.S. Census. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is making sure people know that by declaring today, “Drop Everything, Get Counted Day”
  • Kenneth Boswell, Alabama Counts! chairman and ADECA director makes the reasoning pretty clear, saying, “It should take each person roughly six minutes, but these six minutes are vital to Alabama’s future.” He is calling on employers to take time out of the day to ask employees to participate and then give them time to do so online.

5. TVA CEO pay being reviewed

  •  After President Donald Trump called out the Tennessee Valley Authority, the board reversed their foreign hiring decision, and now they are reviewing the $8.1 million in compensation for Tennessee Valley Authority president Jeff Lyash, interim chairman of the TVA board John Ryder has announced.
  • Ryder said that the board is committed “to doing what is best for the 10 million people in the Tennessee Valley.” He made sure to clarify that the review wasn’t of Lyash’s job performance, only of his pay that has made him the highest-paid federal employee.

4. Still no deal on coronavirus stimulus

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that throughout stimulus package negotiations, Democrats have been treating the pandemic as a “political game” as they are still unable to come to an agreement on legislation.
  • McConnell accused Democrats of blocking relief “over unrelated liberal demands” and even blamed the press, too, for covering “their stonewalling like any ordinary political standoff.” He added that they’re doing a “disservice” to people in America “to act like this has just been more ordinary Washington gridlock.”

3. PAC 12 and the Big Ten decide they don’t want to lose to the SEC this year

  • The college football season continues to take hit after hit with two marquee conferences, the PAC 12 and the Big Ten, deciding that they will postpone their seasons until the spring. Now that two of the big five of college football’s major conferences are quitting, the pressure is now on the SEC, Big XII and ACC to call it quits as well.
  • Most of the college campuses in these two conferences will still have students on campus in the fall. Players are not happy, and Wisconsin is continuing to practice. There were rumblings that some of the dissenting schools in these leagues might seek new homes to play college football this year but that seems to have been kiboshed.

2. Lawsuit against mask mandate dismissed

  • A lawsuit against Governor Kay Ivey, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and the Alabama Board of Health has been dismissed by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin, but the attorney on the lawsuit, Seth Ashmore, has already said that his clients are planning to appeal.
  • The Jackson County residents who brought the lawsuit argued that the mask mandate was “illegally adopted” and created a “deprivation of liberty,” but the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 gives the governor authority to make these sorts of mandates.

1. Surprise! Biden picked Kamala Harris

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has officially named U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate for the 2020 presidential election, which makes Harris the first black woman on a presidential ticket.
  • Biden and Harris will both be subject to criticism, though, as Harris formerly was critical about Biden and even said she believed the women who accused him of sexual assault and misconduct.

2 hours ago

Rep. Palmer: Why is it Joe Biden can send his wife out but he can’t go out?

Earlier this month, Jill Biden, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, began taking a more public role in her husband’s bid for the White House, participating in media interviews and campaign events.

However, Joe Biden has not been out and about as much as the former second lady, which has raised questions about the former vice president and his campaign.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) asked that question and offered a theory as to why that is the case.

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“Here’s Jill Biden, living in the same house with Joe Biden, who is out doing interviews, who is out in meetings,” Palmer said. “She’s in her 60s. She’s not as old as Joe but I believe she is in her 60s, in that age group that is considered at risk. She is able to go out and meet with people. She is able to do interviews face to face but Joe can’t. So people ought to be asking themselves a question: Why is it he can send his wife out but he can’t go out?”

“There are a number of people who have a theory on that, not the least of which is he is a gaffe machine,” he added.

Palmer reminded listeners how Joe Biden’s struggles with gaffes go back decades.

“My first contact with Joe Biden was the very first work that I did in D.C. when I ran the think tank,” Palmer added. “That was Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. And you may recall he had gone through controversy then … It is well known that he is surrounded in controversy and that he is a gaffe machine.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

13 hours ago

Alabama political leaders react to Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice for VP

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday selected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his running mate. Political leaders from both sides of the aisle in Alabama reacted to the news.

Harris served two terms as the attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate in 2016.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), the Yellowhammer State’s most prominent Democrat and a longtime Biden ally, wrote “I know the power and energy of African-American women & the difference their hard work made in my race. Now we’ll make history by electing our first African-American woman VP & I’m so proud that person will be my friend and colleague ⁦Kamala Harris.”

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Jerry Carl, a Mobile County commissioner and the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, was the first major member of the Alabama GOP to react.

“Did Sleepy Joe forget that only months ago Kamala Harris attacked him for his racist policies? Now he is handing over the reins of the Presidency to her and the radical left,” Carl’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the news broke.

“I am ELATED that my friend, colleague, & Sorority Sister Kamala Harris was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate! Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready to take on the big fights and she’s already shown the courage and success to win big fights,” U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee to take on Jones in November, commented on the news via Twitter.

“It’s no surprise that Joe Biden has selected a Socialist Democrat like Kamala Harris as his VP pick. Harris is as far left as it gets, and my opponent, Doug Jones, stands side-by-side with her on almost every critical issue,” Tuberville’s campaign posted. “They have voted time and again for late-term abortion, gun-grabbing laws, open borders legislation, and other far-left agenda items. We must not let Socialists like Doug Jones or Kamala Harris take over our country!”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement, saying, “Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left.”

Lathan listed a number of liberal measures Harris has supported before adding, “We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris. It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, a Democrat, received Harris’ endorsement while he was campaigning for the office he now holds. He tweeted on Tuesday, “I like what I just heard” shortly after the news of Harris being chosen spread online.

“We are proud [Kamala Harris] has been selected to be Joe Biden’s VP. We look forward to helping her make history & make a difference over the next four years,” Reed added.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) campaign account wrote, “Joe Biden’s radical lurch to the left just became even more extreme,” in response to the Harris news.

President Donald Trump was asked about Harris during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“She’s a big tax raiser. She has a lot of things to explain,” he said in part.

Biden and Harris will take on President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the general election this November.

Pence and Harris will debate at 8:00 p.m. CT on October 7.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95