One of the biggest questions surrounding the I-10 Bridge and Bayway Widening project is how are we going to pay for it? With the preliminary design phase underway, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has begun attempting to answer this question by looking into potential funding options for the project.
First, ALDOT is planning to conduct a travel and toll study beginning Monday, April 18th, 2016. “The purpose of the study is to obtain the preferences of drivers, who travel across the Mobile River, through the utilization of travel surveys” (ALDOT). Data will be collected from truckers at various truck stops located along I-10 and from local Mobile and Baldwin county residents. Though no decision has been made regarding funding the project, the information collected through this study will assist ALDOT in developing their funding strategy.
Second, ALDOT has recently submitted a FASTLANE grant application for the I-10 Bridge and Bayway Widening project. Administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FASTLANE grant program will award $800 million for FY 2016 for projects along the freight corridor and national highway system routes. ALDOT has applied for the large project category which has a $25 million minimum and a grant maximum of 60% of the project total. Many entities throughout Coastal Alabama showed their support of ALDOT’s application through letters, including Coastal Alabama Partnership’s Board of Directors and Founding Entities Council. For more information about the grant program and process, please visit https://www.transportation.gov/FASTLANEgrants. Information regarding ALDOT’s grant submission will soon be available at mobileriverbridge.com.
In addition to looking for funding sources, ALDOT continues to work with Thompson Engineering in the preliminary design phase of the I-10 Bridge project. ALDOT is currently conducting stakeholder meetings and is planning to hold two more public involvement meetings later this year. As ALDOT works on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), preliminary design of the interchanges at Virginia Street, Texas Street, West Tunnel Interchange, East Tunnel Interchange, MidBay Crossing and the Eastern Shore continues, as well as possible design options of the Bayway. The preliminary design decisions of the ALDOT preferred corridor, B Prime, will enable ALDOT to address all environmental impacts required by The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as accelerate the final design once the Federal Highway Administration approves the FEIS.