A $250 million grant for the Mobile River Bridge and the I-10 Bayway Project was denied by the federal government on Wednesday.
Mobile and Baldwin county lawmakers applied for the grant last year under the Infra program, designed provide discretionary funds for projects in the U.S. that address critical issues facing the nation’s highways and bridges.
Officials say the foundations for the bridge are already set in place, and the Alabama Department of Transportation will be meeting with “several ‘shortlisted’ teams to work on environmental documents, and furthering the design of the project,” according to WALA.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, says that given the denial of the federal grant; the state needs to redirect funds from the proposed duplicate Intercoastal Canal Bridge to the I-10 Bayway project.
Ziegler released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying, “the failure of the state to obtain the needed quarter-billion dollar ‘Infra’ grant means that discretionary funding must be redirected to the more mature projected for which there is a clearer need.”
“Spending on the proposed duplicate Intercoastal Canal Bridge must be halted and redirected to the I-10 Bayway project,” he continued.
According to Ziegler, “the I-10 project is designed to eliminate congestion in Mobile’s Wallace Tunnels and across the I-10 Bayway over Mobile Bay. The state of Alabama has been working on the project for years.”
The controversial “duplicate Intercostal Canal bridge” Ziegler is referring to is the proposed bridge ALDOT is attempting to build between Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Ala. Just over two months ago, Zeigler reached out to ALDOT trying to find answers about a proposed bridge, but neither John Cooper, transportation Director at ALDOT nor ALDOT have yet to respond to his request. Yesterday, Ziegler reached out to the Transportation Planning Organization to table a vote on including the bridge in their long term plan until he received answers. In their statement of response the TPO noted that, “ALDOT is heavily in support of the bridge.” The project received the necessary votes to be included in the plan.