As the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) gets set to vote Wednesday morning on whether the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project will be eligible for federal funds in the coming years, one member officially announced today he would be voting against it.
Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, who makes up one of 16 votes on the county’s transportation planning board, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday he would vote against making the $2.1-billion bridge project eligible for future federal funding. In addition, the candidate for Alabama’s First Congressional District seat, announced an alternative plan to build the bridge using existing tax money.
Carl, who worked with Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton on the plan, wants to use $35 to $40 million in current gas tax revenue to help pay off the bond note on an $800-million bridge across the Mobile River and would leave the Bayway as is until funds became available in new gas tax revenues to pay for its upgrades.
“The Bayway would be pay-as-you-go using new gas tax funds,” Carl said.
More specifically, Carl said his bridge plan would use funds previously set aside for the court system. Beginning this year, he said, the courts are using a different funding stream.
Carl stressed he is just one vote and it would take eight others to remove the bridge project from the 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) document.
The Eastern Shore MPO will meet Sept. 25 to take up the issue of federal funding for the Bayway project.
The Alabama Department of Transportation has introduced the bridge project as the agency’s first public-private partnership. Three groups remain as possible winning bidders on the project, which will see private investment repaid through tolls of $6 one way.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who is leading a group opposed to tolls, announced he would be in attendance at the meeting. The meeting is set to take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the GM&O building in downtown Mobile.
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