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ALDOT, MPOs launch review of cost-saving options for Mobile River Bridge and Bayway

Estimates for the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project range from $2.8 to $3.5 billion.

Mobile River Bridge concept.
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The Alabama Department of Transportation, along with the chairmen of the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization, today said they will take 60 days to review cost-saving options for constructing the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway to minimize the effects of inflation.

Estimates for the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project range from $2.8 to $3.5 billion, due to increases in construction, material and labor prices since 2020.

“We all hoped that the next significant step would be the setting of a timeline for moving to construction within the 2024 calendar year. However, all the information accumulated at this point has convinced us of the need for deeper review and study. This review period will take at least 60 days before we can determine the next steps forward,” said ALDOT Chief Engineer Ed Austin.

“During this period, ALDOT plans to assess and refine the latest construction cost estimates, the cost and method of long-term financing, current market forces, the potential for identifying additional funding to include federal funding, and other options,” Austin said.

“This project has made tremendous progress since 2019. Construction is nearly shovel ready. That said, this project – like other construction projects around the country – faces the headwinds of inflation and interest rates. It is a wise choice for ALDOT to take time to refine cost estimates and look at additional funding options,” said Mobile MPO Chair Sandy Stimpson.

“This is a vital project for south Alabama, the state, and the region,” said Eastern Shore MPO Chair Jack Burrell. “We have to get it right and build it in a fiscally responsible manner. I am frustrated with the lack of additional federal funding, and I am frustrated that inflation and interest rates remain high. ALDOT is making the right decision to drill down as much as possible to keep this project on track and within the framework.”

Significant progress has been made to move the large construction project forward since December 2021 when the MPOs jointly adopted a framework calling for ALDOT to build a six-lane Mobile River Bridge and a new Bayway, along with related interchanges in Baldwin and Mobile counties. As part of that framework, the MPOs also wanted the causeway, the Wallace and Bankhead tunnels, and the Africatown Bridge to remain toll-free, with tolls on the new infrastructure to be no more than $2.50 for passenger vehicles.

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At this point, design-build contractors have been selected, archaeological surveys completed, design and geotechnical work initiated, and all right of way acquired.

“The leadership shown by local officials has been outstanding,” Austin said. “It has allowed for significant progress to be made. But between increases in inflation and interest rates, it is frustrating but not surprising that project estimates are rising. Every major construction project in the country is being affected by economic factors, so it makes sense to work with local officials and explore potential cost-saving measures. We look forward to continuing our close and productive partnership.”

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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