Lawmakers taking on ALDOT over new I-10 Mobile Bayway-Wallace Tunnel tolls
For over a century, residents of Southwest Alabama have been grappling with a solution to getting back and forth across the Mobile Bay.
Prior to the opening of the vertical-lift Cochrane Bridge and the Mobile Bay Causeway in the 1920s, those making the trek from Mobile to Baldwin County’s Eastern Shore relied on ferry service to Daphne and Fairhope. In the 1940s, the Bankhead Tunnel opened, which offered for a more direct path to the existing Causeway. In the 1970s, the Wallace Tunnel opened. Then in the 1990s came the completion of the $69 million Africatown-Cochrane Bridge that replaced the old Cochrane bridge.
In recent years, Alabama’s transportation policymakers have decided on offering another option for Bay crossers to alleviate back-ups coming in and out of the city of Mobile through the Wallace Tunnel: a new Bayway bridge that will be erected south of Mobile’s downtown.
However, it comes with a catch: tolls.
Dollar figures for the proposed toll that would be levied on those crossing the new Bayway bridge and the existing Wallace Tunnel range from $3-6 according to reports. The proposal has been met with opposition from residents of Baldwin County, which is one of the most-Republican counties in the state of Alabama.
The opposition comes on the heels of the Alabama legislature passage of a 10-cent gas tax increase, part of Gov. Kay Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama Act.
State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne), who represents parts of western Mobile County and the area of Baldwin County where the bridge will be constructed, insists the tolls levied would be the same as double-charging some citizens.
“I have met in person with ALDOT to express my concerns not only with the high tolls on the I-10 bridge but also making sure improvements to the Causeway are addressed,” Simpson said to Yellowhammer News on Monday. “The people of our district are already paying an increase in gas taxes. It would be wrong to charge our citizens twice.”
One proposed alternative is using GOMESA [Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act] money in place of tolls, which has been put forth by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who represents the area in Congress.