DAPHNE – With the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization approving a phased approach to expanding interstate access across Mobile Bay, the Eastern Shore MPO will now decide whether to go forward …
DAPHNE – With the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization approving a phased approach to expanding interstate access across Mobile Bay, the Eastern Shore MPO will now decide whether to go forward with the same plan or ask that all construction done at the same time.
The Eastern Shore MPO meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Daphne City Hall.
Fairhope City Council President Jack Burrell, chairman of the Eastern Shore MPO, said the best solution would be to have all the work done at the same time and completed as soon as possible.
The money for the entire project, estimated at more than $2 billion, is not available, however. He said the decision will be up to the entire Eastern Shore MPO Policy Board, but members may put the phased approach on its Transportation Improvement Plan and still look for funding to get the rest of the work started as soon as possible.
“I think that we would prefer to have it all done in one project,” Burrell said. “Will we back off and say we’ll take what we can get? Yes, but I think we’re going to keep pushing, but I would look for some language that we keep our options open for sure. I would look for some language that says while we’re putting this on our TIP, and, I can’t speak for everybody, while we’re going to put this on the TIP, we’re going to pursue a parallel path of getting the entire program done and finding funding for that.”
The Mobile MPO voted Wednesday, June 2, to put the phased approach recommended by the Alabama Department of Transportation on that organization’s long and short-range plans.
The first phase of that process includes building a new toll bridge for large trucks over the Mobile River. That phase also includes repainting the stripes on the existing Interstate 10 Bayway to increase the number of lanes on both the eastbound and westbound spans from two to three.
Later phases would include another span over the Mobile River and a new elevated highway to replace the Bayway.
At a May 19 public meeting on the bridge project, Eastern Shore MPO members said they were concerned that the phased approach would take too long to complete. Baldwin County Commissioner Joe Davis said the route is already one of the biggest bottlenecks on the entire I-10 system from Florida to California and traffic is increasing.
“If the bridge is started today, we’re looking at four years,” Davis said on May 19. “How much is the traffic going to increase between Mobile and Baldwin County? How much can it increase before the infrastructure fails?”
Audience members also objected to charging semi-tractor trailer trucks as much as $15 to cross the new bridge.
Daniel Wright, a board member of the Alabama Truck Association, said the entire burden of paying for the first phase should not be placed on the trucking industry. He said the project singles out the trucking industry to pay the entire cost of the bridge.