Doug Jones: $125 million INFRA grant for Mobile Bay Bridge ‘a first step’; ‘A $90-a-month toll is just not feasible’
For many of the critics of the proposed $2.1 billion new Mobile Bay Bridge for Interstate 10, the federal component of the funding has been underwhelming, even as the feds have pledged a $125 million through an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) called that grant a “first step” and said he was working to secure more funding for the project.
“I’m hoping that the grant will come through,” Jones said to Yellowhammer News. “I know that we in the past have tried to support whatever grants Mobile and the area have tried to reach. There is some things are there now – that, of course, is welcomed news that they can get. But I think it is a first step.”
The junior senator acknowledged there were problems with the proposed tolling from the Alabama Department of Transportation, but suggested that if the project were to be designated as an evacuation route it could make additional federal money available.
“I agree that a $90-a-month toll is just not feasible,” Jones explained. “That’s just out of the question for those folks who are going to do that, and we got to look at other ways. I want to go back to the thing we got in our SAFE Act, which will help infrastructure and create additional pots of money if we can get that passed. It’s called the BE SAFE Act, and while it is designed specifically for evacuation routes, clearly that I-10 can be an evacuation route.”
“We just got to be thinking of the right ways we can get more federal dollars into that project and reduce the cost because I’ve said all along not every state can handle public-private partnerships the way others can,” he added. “And I have consistently said if there’s going to be any toll, it’s got to be something people can live with and not be an extraordinary tax. We have tried to write letters for the grants. I have been very supportive of the DOT grant that Mobile has tried to do. So hopefully, it’s going to work out. We just keep coming, trying to find ways – every way we can to try to help them.”