Kay Ivey: Officials look for ways to cut proposed bridge tolls

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Kay Ivey

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Friday that officials will continue to look at ways to eliminate, or at least reduce, tolls of up to $6 on a proposed Mobile bridge.

The proposed $2.1 billion toll bridge across Mobile Bay and the Mobile River has been met with opposition from people who say the tolls would hurt working families and small businesses. Ivey has asked the state toll bridge authority to meet on Oct. 7 so people could propose alternate funding possibilities.

“I wish we didn’t have to have tolls period, and we may not have to,” Ivey told reporters Friday when asked about opposition to the toll bridge plan.

“We will keep looking at it, because it would be wonderful if we could have no tolls. At least let’s see if we can have less tolls, or maybe we can find ways to lower the cost,” the governor said.

The 10-mile (16-kilometer) toll bridge proposal has divided state officials. Transportation officials have said the bridge is needed to eliminate congestion and improve safety, but the state on its own can’t afford the massive project. Critics have said the tolls, ranging up to $6, would be difficult for working families and commuters to pay.

The proposed tolls would be based on the distance traveled. One proposal would be to sell unlimited toll passes for $90 per month and to offer other discounts for frequent users.

Local officials who serve on the Mobile Area Metropolitan Planning Organization delayed a decision this week on whether to include the project in the region’s transportation plan. The toll bridge must be in the plan to qualify for federal funding. The group will reconvene after the Oct. 7 toll bridge authority meeting.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.