MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Alabama Transportation Director John Cooper is expected to meet with Gulf Coast legislators on Wednesday in Spanish Fort for a briefing on the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project. The talk is likely to focus on the decision to toll the roadways to the tune of $3 to $6.
That proposal has many concerned, concern made evident during Representative Bradley Byrne’s town hall meeting in Magnolia Springs on Monday.
Magnolia Springs resident Victoria Armstrong summed up the sentiment for many. ” Right now, it just feels like we’re being taken advantage of, I don’t think the public is being heard, we don’t want tolls–I don’t think we should have tolls on that bridge, it hurts a lot of people,” she said.
Byrne addressed efforts to advice state officials on securing federal money for the project, but said the state officials seem convinced the proposed tolls is the only way to fund the $2.1b project. This type of public-private partnership or ‘P3’ project, is not unprecedented in the U.S., which has been called ‘The world’s largest emerging P3 market.’
But that doesn’t do much to settle the ire of thousands of Gulf Coast residents who are against any sort of tolling. Byrne has said he is against tolling, but as a federal official, he says his hands are tied.
A spokesperson for the project told News 5 last week that ALDOT is seeking some federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infragrant program. However that funding would only amount to about $150m, far short of what is needed.