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Alabama’s congressional delegation urges federal support for $3B+ Mobile River bridge

Alabama’s full congressional delegation is asking the federal government for more financial support for the long-proposed Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project.

“While the I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project does not extend across every congressional district in the state, we stand united in emphasizing how critical this transportation infrastructure is to the entire state, region and nation,” a letter this week from the seven U.S. representatives and two senators states.

It was sent to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to urge the department to approve the state’s application for federal assistance through a grant program that supports large infrastructure projects that are difficult to fund by other means, according to a press release.

“Spanning eight states, I-10 connects many of the country’s major cities and seaports, serves as a primary transportation artery for both travel and commerce throughout the United States, and is a major evacuation route given the Gulf Coast’s propensity for being in the path of major storms such as hurricanes,” the letter states.

The grant application is one of several in addition to the recently-announced  Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan process that ALDOT has started with the USDOT.

It followed a Monday announcement from the Alabama Department of Transportation and the chairmen of the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization that, after a 60-day review period, more federal funds are needed for the massive project.

“We are committed to this project and will continue to do everything possible to ensure its success,” ALDOT and the local groups said in a statement Monday. “Project costs, roughly $3 to $3.5 billion, are nearly double ALDOT’s annual budget, which is intended to construct and administer projects in every corner of the state. Interstate 10, the fourth-longest interstate in the country, spans 2,460 miles through eight states. Only 66 miles of this interstate are in Alabama, the least of any state along the I-10 corridor.”

The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan is not guaranteed but could pay for 49% of the project.

“This project is essentially shovel-ready except for an inflation-driven gap in funding,” ALDOT said. “ At the end of the day, we need the federal government to continue working with us in recognizing the national importance of this project and join us in making it a reality. Based on our progress – with all right of way acquired, necessary federal approvals secured, and federal loan processes initiated – we believe that the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is the most advanced of any similar project in the country. ALDOT and the MPOs remain committed to this project, and we will continue to seek the additional federal funding we need to begin construction.”

State leaders for several years have sought a way to pay for a new bridge over the Mobile River. The proposed project is a six-lane bridge over the river in downtown Mobile that would connect to an elevated and expanded Bayway to U.S. 98 in Daphne. Interchange improvements in Mobile and Baldwin counties are also included in the project.

In its letter, the D.C. delegation noted that the Wallace and Bankhead tunnels in Mobile were built more than 50 years ago and carry three times more traffic than they were designed to support. The Bayway was constructed more than 50 years ago and is over capacity.

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