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August 8, 2022

Proposed new Alabama bridge’s price tag swells to $2.7 billion

The latest plan for a new bridge and revamped Interstate 10 to ease traffic congestion on the Gulf Coast at Mobile shows the cost has swelled to $2.7 billion after years of disputes and delays, an increase of more than 25%.

The project, which includes a tall bridge over the Mobile River and a replacement of I-10 over Mobile Bay just east of downtown, could be complete by late 2028 if work begins next year, according to a report released Friday by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Passenger vehicles would pay a maximum toll of $2.50 and trucks would pay as much as $18, the report said, but free routes would still be available.

The project was projected to cost $2.1 billion in 2019, but opposition over plans to charge cars one-way tolls of as much as $6 led to delays. The state’s new report on the on-again, off-again project blamed inflation for the price hike.

The project would be funded with $250 million from the state; $625 million in federal grants; $1.2 billion in bond financing and $1.1 in federal loans, the report said. Revenue from tolls would be used to pay the debt.

Almost 100,000 cars and trucks use the current system of tunnels and bridges that cross Mobile Bay and the Mobile River, leading to congestion on roads that were designed for only 35,000 vehicles daily, the report said. The improvement is needed to allow for growth, improve safety and hasten evacuation during hurricanes, the report said.

After looking dead, the project was resurrected in December after officials in Mobile and Baldwin County approved a framework they said was needed to improve traffic flow on the Gulf Coast for the project. The heavily traveled east-west route links Jacksonville, Florida, with Los Angeles.

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