MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The idea of constructing a new bridge to span the Mobile River is back on the table on Alabama’s coast, where opposition to tolls killed the $2 billion project last year.
The Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization has asked the state transportation agency for an update on plans, WPMI-TV reported.
Commissioner Joe Davis, a member of the organization, said the need for the bridge has never gone away, and it was time to talk options again. Opposition to tolls that could have been as high as $6 killed the project previously.
“I’m not opposed to a toll as long as the locals have a free option, and that was the crowning blow that killed the project with the eastern shore MPO about a year ago, was that everything was going to be tolled,” said Davis.
The proposed Interstate 10 bridge across the Mobile River and Mobile Bay would have spanned about 10 miles (16 kilometers) and soared hundreds of feet above the water near downtown. Fairhope City Council President Jack Burrell says talking about the project with state engineers was a positive step.
“I believe they have a lot of time and effort invested in this. I have to believe that they want it to move forward and they know that we need it. I’m hoping that, in the very near future, that we can get together and maybe get it on the visionary plan,” said Burrell.
Transportation officials spent about $60 million on the project, planning a bridge and purchasing land, before the state pulled the plug last year because of opposition to tolls. Proponents say the bridge is needed to ease congestion and improve safety on I-10 around Mobile.