Ivey on Mobile Bay bridge project: ‘We must continue working together to creatively find solutions’
Governor Kay Ivey’s office on Thursday joined the U.S. Department of Transportation in officially confirming that the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project has been awarded a $125 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant by the Trump administration.
The project announcement was first made Monday by Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) office, which said the amount signifies one of the largest competitive federal grants ever awarded to the state of Alabama.
Alabama has been also selected for a $6.87 million INFRA grant for an infrastructure project in Tuscaloosa to help replace an overpass bridge located on University Boulevard and U.S. Highway 82.
“Revitalizing our state’s infrastructure is critical to moving Alabama forward, and I am grateful to (USDOT) Secretary Chao and the U.S. Department of Transportation for helping our state take another step to bring these projects to fruition,” Ivey said in a statement.
“It is vitally important for us to engage our partners at every level – federal, state and local – to ensure we are effectively using our dollars, while making necessary enhancements to infrastructure in Alabama,” the governor added. “I am proud to support the Trump Administration in their endeavor to not only make band-aid fixes, but to make substantial, long-term improvements to infrastructure.”
The Mobile bridge project, with a projected cost of more than $2 billion, has become a hot-button political issue in coastal Alabama, with ALDOT currently planning to utilize tolling.
The project includes a new cable-stay bridge over Mobile River, replacement of the existing I-10 Bayway Bridge and modifications to multiple interchanges across I-10. Ultimately, the new Bayway will provide eight lanes of travel across the Mobile Bay. The new Mobile River Bridge will have more than 215 feet of vertical clearance to carry I-10 across the Mobile Channel, permitting all types of maritime traffic in the Port of Mobile. The Federal Highway Administration regulations state that the Bayway needs to be raised above the 100-year storm surge level. Since the existing bridge cannot be raised, it must be replaced with a new structure. Given this change, the cost of the project increased from $850 million to the approximate $2.1 billion total.
Both the Mobile and Tuscaloosa projects will employ innovation through intelligent transportation system (ITS). ITS aims to provide technology to coordinate services related to modes of transports, surveillance and traffic management. This innovative tool keeps roads safe during and after construction. ITS also is a valuable resource to assist with evacuations.
“While I am thrilled to welcome this important funding from USDOT, our work is not done yet. This makes it ever clearer that we must continue working together to creatively find solutions for not only these two projects – but also for other needed improvements across the state,” Ivey concluded.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn