Mobile River bridge and Bayway widening proposal

In summer 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation released the Draft Environmental Impact Study for the $1 billion proposal to build a bridge over the Mobile River and widen the Interstate 10 Bayway. These are news stories and commentary related to the state's pursuit of funding, final design and construction.

Mobile River bridge and Bayway widening proposal

Bentley touts bridge project during Senate committee testimony

Gov. Robert Bentley told a United States Senate panel Wednesday morning that he was not opposed to having the much-discussed Interstate 10 bridge project over the Mobile River compete for federal dollars against projects of similar size. Bentley, vice president of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee of the National Governors Association, testified before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, when he was asked by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., about the possibility of competitive grants for “regionally and nationally significant projects” that fall outside of typical funding streams, like the I-10 bridge project. “It’s better to have them compete than to not have them at all,” he told her. Bentley added, from a federal government perspective, it is best to look at the importance of each project in terms of safety, security and the economy. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked Bentley if he thought funding for projects, like the bridge, should come from a separate stream of federal money from more typical projects. “I believe what you said is exactly what I said in my testimony,” Bentley said. “There has to be a different stream of funding for those projects of regional and national significance and they should be competitive.” Bentley highlighted some of the safety concerns faced by folks who use the George Wallace tunnel. He told the senators “all the highways come into one tunnel” and...

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First economic study on bridge predicts construction windfall

An unsolicited study prepared for the Coastal Alabama Partnership by the University of South Alabama Center for Real Estate and Economic Development suggests construction spending on the proposed I-10 bridge could generate 11,631 new jobs in an eight-county region and create at least $35 million in new local tax revenue. The resulting improvements to infrastructure could account for more than $1.5 billion in new economic activity, leading to an additional $523 million in new wages and $903 million in goods and services. Dr. Donald Epley, director of the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development, said as a bridge proponent with access to existing proprietary data sets, he compiled the numbers on his own and submitted them to the CAP late last month. “I’m one of those who believes a rising tide floats all boats,” Epley said. “We have a data vendor for which we pay an annual fee that gives us access to best data in the region — if not the state or country — and it’s made available to us quarterly. We also have a significant impediment to economic development (in the existing tunnels) and we know there is a link between economic development and transportation. We didn’t charge the Partnership anything, it needed to be done and needed to be out there with some numbers.” Two areas of focus for the study were the distribution...

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COVER STORY: Bridge funds will likely be a cocktail of public, private sources

Last month in a large conference room across the hall from U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C., a relatively small contingent representing the Coastal Alabama Partnership gathered for a quick debriefing. The group, including about 16 Mobile and Baldwin County elected officials and business representatives, had spent the previous day and a half in a whirlwind of meetings in the offices of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. Earlier in the summer, the DOT released a long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed $1 billion...

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A classy name, fit for a lady

Editor, I would like to express my opinion on the name of the proposed bridge over the Mobile River. But first I should point out the negative actions that have occurred during the life of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Many years ago the Delta was a lifeline as a food source for indigenous, proud people. The American Indian respected all of the nature and was wise and caring steward of the delta. But due to shameful acts the nutrient-rich tidewater was blocked with the asphalt causeway and polluted with garbage thrown into the waterways. So I am proposing a name that will glorify the delta. The delta would be seen for miles from this high-rise bridge. I believe children should be educated on the caretaking of nature and this name would create questions about the delta. I believe it would be a world-class name. I would like to propose the bridge to be named “The Lady Delta Bridge.” J. “Butch” Davis,...

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Is a bridge really the best way?

To the editor: I understand the problems associated with getting stuck in traffic at either end of the tunnel. I’ve been there just trying to get downtown. If I have to go to the other side, I take the Cochrane Bridge. The question is: Whose quality of life are we trying to improve by increasing the capacity for automobiles crossing the head of the Bay – people from Baton Rouge going to Disneyland or locals moving from home to work in both directions? The consequences of increased automobile usage include local degradation of both air and water quality due to the many emissions of automobiles, ranging from tailpipe releases of carbon dioxide to toxic heavy metals coming from tire wear and everything in between. Mobile Bay is already routinely stressed by nutrient loading, including carbon – all contributing to lower dissolved oxygen levels in the Bay and subsequent fish kills. Higher temperatures are predicted and that can make the impacts worse since less oxygen can be retained by Bay waters. If the issues are actually acquiring tons of federal dollars (which is the only thing we ever want from Washington) to temporarily benefit the construction industry (who may or may not be local) and the local tax base, and getting people to Florida to spend money there, then by all means build the bridge and we’ll have to get...

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Bridging the differences on the bridge

It was late and the bar was nearing closing, but I figured there was time for one more glass of water. I stumbled in, tripping on something. Not sure what. There was my old buddy William Hinge Van Anterse III — Trey to his friends. As usual he was in an animated intellectual conversation. “Nick Saban absolutely would have discovered a cure for polio if he coached in the 1930s because he would’ve known it would give him a recruiting advantage,” Trey told the bartender, who just kind of shrugged and wandered away looking tired. “What’s up Trey?” I...

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The push for the new I-10 bridge

WASHINGTON – For more than a century, one of the biggest challenges for the southwest Alabama region has been transportation across Mobile Bay from Mobile to Baldwin County and vice versa.  The problem goes back all the way to the early part of the last century. The city of Mobile was still feeling the effects of the Civil War and was relatively isolated from the rest of the state. The powers in Montgomery gave little focus to Mobile and its access woes, including east-west access to and from Mobile. What access that had existed either came from the north...

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Most support bridge project at ALDOT public forum

Most in attendance spoke in support of building a new I-10 bridge over the Mobile River, during the first of two public forums hosted by the Alabama Department of Transportation. The forum, held Tuesday evening at the Alabama Cruise Terminal, allowed attendees to speak about the project for two minutes each, as well as submit written comments. The forum was part of the process ALDOT has to go through before an Environmental Impact Study can be completed. Not only were most commenters in favor of the 215-foot bridge and the project that calls for the widening of the Bayway by two lanes each way, most favored the proposed path of the bridge, one that would start at Virginia Street and continue just south of the cruise terminal to north side of the Austal complex. Preferred alternate B Prime, as it’s being called, would allow the six-lane bridge to connect to the Bayway just east of the Government Street exit. “B Prime has been vetted for over 10 years,” Build The Bridge Coalition Co-Chairman Mike Lee said. “The maximum positive impact comes through B Prime.” Jennifer Denson, of Partners for Environmental Progress agreed, saying the organization not only supported the bridge project, but also supported the B Prime location. She said continued gridlock caused by a no build option would waste fuel, increase carbon monoxide emissions and could lead to...

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