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ALDOT Moves Forward with Mobile Bridge

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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The Alabama Department of Transportation announced Monday (Aug. 28) that it is moving forward with plans for a new Mobile River bridge that could cost upwards of $1 billion, and the agency is looking for a private partner to join in leading the job.

The Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project will involve the construction of a six-lane bridge across the river in Mobile, and an expansion of the Jubilee Parkway, known as the Bayway, which traverses Mobile Bay from Mobile to Spanish Fort. Interstate 10 is currently carried across the Mobile River via the four-lane Wallace Tunnel, opened in 1973.

Mobile River Bridge rendering
Images: ALDOT

The new Mobile River Bridge, seen here in a rendering from 2014, will likely be a cable-stayed span, though designs have not been finalized.

The expansion plan has been discussed for more than 15 years, and officials say traffic backups caused by the limited capacity of the tunnels and Bayway are among the worst congestion in the state. Changes have been slow to materialize, though, partly because of local concerns about view obstructions and potential navigational clearance issues.

While a precise design has not been settled—that will be part of the public-private partnership, which ALDOT says will likely take the form of a design-build-finance-operate-maintain contract—ALDOT is proposing a cable-stayed span that will provide 215 with navigational clearance, enough to allow large cruise ships and the so-called New Panamax cargo vessels.

Funding Options

The agency says it is exploring all options for funding, including federal grants and tolling. A partnership of the type ALDOT expects to enter would likely involve tolls as a way for the private partner to recoup costs not provided by government grants.

Mobile River Bridge map

The project involves the new bridge (shown in purple) and an expansion to the Jubilee Parkway, known as the Bayway (in blue). (Map shows preferred routing alternative.)

ALDOT officials told AL.com the project's total budget is difficult to determine right now, but could range anywhere between $800 million and $1.8 billion.

ALDOT held an industry forum Monday to discuss the project with contractors and other entities that could be involved. From here, the agency says, it expects to issue a request for qualifications this fall, followed by a request for proposals in the second quarter of 2018, and construction as early as 2019. The project’s environmental review is ongoing.

Bayway Plan

The current Bayway is a set of twin concrete viaduct structures that stretch 7.5 miles across the bay. According to ALDOT’s plans, the existing four-lane Bayway would be replaced with an eight-lane system that would be built above the 100-year storm surge level. The Wallace Tunnel would remain open to connect the Bayway to downtown Mobile, while the new bridge would allow I-10 traffic to bypass downtown.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Design build; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways

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