Wednesday, the federal government rejected a $250 million grant application from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) necessary to continue the Mobile River Bridge and I-10 Bayway Project.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) says the financial setback means “spending on the proposed duplicate Intercoastal Canal Bridge must be halted and redirected to the I-10 Bayway project.”
Zeigler said Wednesday: “The failure of the state to obtain the needed quarter-billion dollar ‘Infra’ grant means that discretionary funding must be redirected to the more mature project for which there is a clearer need.”
A partnership of government leaders from Mobile and Baldwin County had applied for the $250 million dollar INFRA grant last year. The INFRA “infrastructure for rebuilding America” program provides discretionary funding for projects that address critical issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges.
State officials insist that this setback will not delay the project. ALDOT officials say that they are traveling to Washington next week to meet with federal officials.
State transportation officials may re-apply next year. ALDOT appears committed to moving the I-10 project forward. The pile driving work along the Bayway has already been finished.
The I-10 project is designed to eliminate congestion in Mobile’s Wallace Tunnels and across the I-10 Bayway over Mobile Bay. The state of Alabama has been working on the project for years.
The project for a duplicate bridge over the Intercoastal Canal is relatively new and would cost an estimated $87 million.
Zeigler says the I-10 project must be a higher priority than the duplicate Intercoastal bridge, which would connect the Beach Express to Orange Beach.
“Our transportation dollars are limited. We must set priorities and not base spending on politics. We cannot build everything at once,” Zeigler said. “We need funds for Bloody 98, I-65, highway 280, I-565 and dozens of local projects. We cannot afford to prioritize by politics.”
Local leaders said they received official word from Congressman Bradley Byrne’s office Tuesday morning.
ALDOT submitted the grant request on November 7.
The I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is a proposal to increase the capacity of I-10 by constructing a new six-lane bridge with 215 feet of Air Draft Clearance (ADC) across the Mobile River and building a new eight-lane Bayway.
ALDOT claims that, “In the Mobile area, there is a need to increase the capacity of I-10 to meet existing and predicted future traffic volumes and to provide a more direct route for vehicles transporting hazardous materials, while minimizing impacts to Mobile’s maritime industry.”
Original reporting by Fox 10 News in Mobile contributed to this report.