The Alabama Department of Transportation is calling on the private sector to help to fund the Mobile River Bridge project on Interstate 10.
Such funding could also include a toll for the proposed six-lane span to alleviate traffic jams at the George Wallace Tunnel. Cost estimates for the bridge have ranged from $850 million to $1.5 billion.
For two days, August 28 and 29, ALDOT officials held a forum in Mobile to inform about 400 members of the private sector of the project and seek their input. The ALDOT hopes to follow a design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) model. Under such a model, the government entity gives all duties for the project to a private entity. In exchange, the private entity is entitled to collect fees from drivers and/or payments from the government entity to recoup its investment. Control of the road is returned to the government entity after the agreed upon payback period.
The agency says it intends to fund the project through a public-private partnership, national grants and tolls.
The ALDOT plans to follow up on the forum in the fall with a request for qualifications, and a request for proposals in the second quarter of 2018. Construction could begin in 2019, the ALDOT says.
The bridge is planned to be 12,000 feet long and 215 feet high to allow maritime traffic to travel beneath it. The project also involves replacing the existing four-lane Bayway with an eight-lane structure that would be above the 100-year storm surge.
The ALDOT says the project is needed because the Wallace Tunnel now averages 75,000 vehicles a day, more than twice the amount of traffic it was intended to handle.