For all those excited about the possibility of seeing new Mobile River bridge construction this year, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) would like you to pump the brakes.
The earliest anyone in Mobile will see shovels in the ground is 2020, ALDOT spokeswoman Allison Gregg confirmed.
The project is still in the environmental phase, and the deadline for a request for proposals (RFP) released to the three teams selected to develop the project has been pushed back to late summer or early fall due to issues with the environmental review process, Gregg said. A design deadline was originally scheduled for June.
“The process is taking longer than we thought it would,” she said. “We want to get it right because it’s in such a sensitive area. It’s important to get it right now before construction starts.”
As for the RFP, Gregg said ALDOT is continuing to work with the selected teams on a monthly basis. When it is eventually released, “it should not be a surprise to any of them,” she said. “We’re working with all three teams separately.”
On preparing for construction, Gregg said crews should have finished the demolition of nine buildings in the footprint of the bridge by now. A team of archeologists will now explore the site before construction can proceed in order to search for historically significant deposits.
While this work progresses, ALDOT has begun to apply for U.S Department of Transportation grants to help fund the project.
Once construction begins, ALDOT is sticking with a five-year window for completion, Gregg said.
The project will consist of a suspension bridge and a new, taller and wider Bayway across the Mobile River and Mobile Bay, Gregg said. In addition to possible grants, the project will be financed through tolls. As it stands, tolls will be placed on the new bridge, Bayway and the Wallace Tunnel. The tolls will be segmented, Gregg said, meaning drivers will only pay a toll equal to the portion they travel.