The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) presented bicycle and pedestrian requirements of the proposed Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project to members of local bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees Tuesday, Feb. 27.
In 2016 and 2017, ALDOT held meetings to gauge the public’s opinions regarding bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the project. These meetings included a public workshop and focus groups comprised of the Mobile and Eastern Shore bike and pedestrian Advisory committees.
The majority of respondents wanted facilities on the Mobile River Bridge. The view and tourism opportunities from facilities on the Mobile River Bridge was the most popular comment received. The Cochrane Bridge Route was second most popular and had support from nearby communities due to its connectivity to existing and planned routes. The Bankhead route was least popular for permanent path but was popular with weekend recreational users.
Teams submitting proposals to partner with ALDOT to deliver the project must include the following bicycle and pedestrian elements: improvements to the existing route from Cochrane Bridge Route from Interstate 165 and Bay Bridge Road to east side of Cochrane-Africatown Bridge and an observation deck with elevator/stairs at the west side of Mobile River.
As part of the proposal process, ALDOT is asking submitting teams to evaluate whether the following bike and pedestrian options are technically and economically feasible: bike and pedestrian path along entire length of Mobile River Bridge, extending the Cochrane Bridge route along I-165 to Beauregard Street, with a protected path created by repurposing the shoulder and extending Cochrane Bridge route along US 98 to Battleship Park.
ALDOT will continue seasonal closings of Bankhead Tunnel on weekends, as long as the community interest continues.
The agency is pursuing a public private partnership to deliver the project.
This project is currently in the environmental phase. During this phase, ALDOT is working toward finalizing the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process, which includes the opportunity for public input through a formalized process. Once the NEPA process is complete, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will release a Record of Decision (ROD). Once that action is complete, ALDOT will be able to select the team that will Design, Build, Finance, Maintain, and Operate (DBFOM) the project. That team is called a concessionaire.
The Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is planning a public meeting for fall 2018. The public will meet with project staff, provide comments and learn more about environmental findings, Public Private Partnerships, project funding, toll information, and construction scheduling.
Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project
This critically important, high-priority transportation project will involve constructing a new six-lane bridge across the Mobile River to increase Interstate 10’s capacity and replace the existing four-lane Bayway with an eight-lane facility at an elevation above the 100-year storm surge event to reduce traffic headaches for thousands of commuters each day by saving motorists time.
The Wallace Tunnel currently averages 75,000 vehicles per day, reaching up to 100,000 vehicles during the peak tourism season. With almost double the daily traffic originally anticipated for the crossing, heavy congestions and longer travel times impact motorists, businesses, and the quality of life in the region. ALDOT expects this project to: reduce travel time between Mobile and Spanish Fort/Daphne; increase reliability in travel times and accessibility to jobs, educational facilities, medical services, and recreational activities; facilitate access to/from major industries and freight destinations in Mobile and Baldwin Counties and provide hazardous material vehicles a direct route away from the downtown district and take all efforts to preserve and protect the Mobile Bay so that generations to come can enjoy the view and natural beauty from the bridge.
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