On Thursday, Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson asked that a portion of the state’s $1 billion settlement with BP be used to finish the 20-year-old Highway 98 project in an open letter to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.
The project, which according to Hudson has been on the Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) list of pending improvements for nearly 20 years, only lacks about 10 miles from being completed — a section running from Schillinger Road in Mobile to the Mississippi state line.However, the cost for adding additional lanes to the remaining section is estimated to $120 million. In her later, Hudson said the project is a priority because of the growing congestion on the road. That congestion has been blamed for several accidents, and earned the highway the nickname, “Bloody 98.”
“If funding were available today, it would still be nearly five years before the project could be completed,” Hudson’s letter reads. “Further delays in funding the project will only continue to push the completion date out by years. Meanwhile, ‘Bloody 98’ will continue to be the most dangerous 2-lane road for vehicular fatalities within the state of Alabama.”
Hudson is not alone, though. State Rep. Margie Wilcox is currently working to draft a bill that would allocate $500 million of the state’s settlement for ALDOT road projects in Mobile and Baldwin counties, including ones along Highway 98.
That bill is being pushed by members of the legislative delegations in both counties, and Wilcox said she plans to introduce the bill when the legislature returns for a special session to address the general fund deficit on Aug. 3.
Like the legislators, Hudson wrote in her letter that the state’s coastal communities were the hardest hit by 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill the BP settlement arose from.
“Governor Bentley, speaking on behalf of the citizens that we both represent here in south Alabama, I implore you to help the area of the state that suffered most from the devastating impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill with this very critical need,” Hudson wrote.