In a private conversation with several of the principals of one of the three construction alliances bidding on the Interstate 10 Mobile River bridge and elevated causeway, I learned of several interesting facts.

Once the construction contract is awarded on the bridge, the state of Alabama, county of Mobile and the city of Mobile plan to immediately install electronic tolls on all east- and westbound traffic through/across the Bankhead Tunnel, Wallace Tunnel and the Cochrane Bridge prior to the bridge construction.

Frequent commuters will be encouraged to purchase prepaid electronic toll passes. Non-prepaid electronic toll pass drivers will have an electronic picture of their vehicle’s license plates recorded and be billed the toll fee with an additional surcharge. The conversation with these individuals who are in the know went on to say they expect the toll to be $1.50 to $2.50 per trip with the prepaid electronic toll pass.

Some interesting facts to know:

• At present from the Atlantic to the Pacific (Jacksonville to Los Angeles), I-10 has no tolls.

• Baldwin County’s usage of the BP Oil Spill funds to expand the Beach Express north of I-10 to I-65 is extremely timely to the tolls being put in place on the Bankhead Tunnel, Wallace Tunnel and the Cochrane Bridge.

• Tolls on the Mobile River Bridge will become a financial and logistic incentive for commercial traffic to switch from I-10 to I-20 in Arizona, continue across to Birmingham to where they will take I-65 south of the new extension of the Beach Express, before getting on I-10 to their Florida destinations. And there will be other traffic flow variations.   

Isn’t this something the public needs to be aware of!

Eugene A. Talbott
President, Research Strategies Inc.