State Sen. Albritton on ALDOT’s proposed Mobile Bay Bridge $2.1 billion price tag: ‘We can do better than this, I believe’
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) was going to be one of the leading players in the proposed $2.1 billion I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge project if it had proceeded without Gov. Kay Ivey’s cancelation of it last week after the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to remove it from their Transportation Improvement Plan.
Albritton, the chairman of the Alabama Senate’s General Fund Committee, has a seat on Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority and was the only member of that body to represent an area directly impacted by any proposed tolling deemed necessary for the bridge’s construction.
During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” on Friday, Albritton said he wanted to see the 14 other plans rejected by ALDOT before they settled on the plan Ivey canceled last week. He also compared the proposed $2.1 billion price tag of the structure to two existing structures built nearby in the 1990s, Interstate 165, a spur off of Interstate 65 that connects that interstate to downtown Mobile by way of Prichard, and the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge, which is currently signed U.S. Highway 90, and goes over the Mobile River roughly five miles north of downtown Mobile.
Based on the prices of those two structures in today’s dollars, Albritton told “Capitol Journal” host Don Dailey the state “could do better” than what it had offered.
“I can tell you this, and I don’t know how familiar you are and how the public is, but there is one bridge – the newest bridge over the Mobile River is the Africantown Bridge, also known as the Cochrane Bridge – a four-lane structure that goes over the Mobile River,” Albritton said. “And it cost in the early 90s, I think it was ’94, it cost about $76 million to build. Now, put that in today’s dollars – that’s somewhere around $122 million, that we can just put a structure around. Now the administration says that is not built to the standards of interstate. Well, if we leave the Bayway alone, we don’t have to build another bridge to build those criteria. That’s one way.”
“We can do a raised roadway,” he continued. “Now, in Mobile, we have an I-165. It runs about five miles, from I-65 to downtown. That was again built in the ‘90s. But it costs in today’s dollars $376 million to be built. That’s five miles. It’s seven miles across the bay. So, if we look at those two costs, we’re looking at maybe $500 million to get across the bay – across the river and extend it out into the bay. And so, how much more – it’s going to take another one-and-a-half billion dollars to go that remaining [two miles]?”
“We can do better than this, I believe,” Albritton added.