Roadscapes Stuff

Roadscapes Wednesday: Interstate 10 Needs The Mobile River Bridge

Roadscapes Geek Alabama

I have talked about the need to replace the George Wallace Tunnel which carries Interstate 10 under the Mobile River.  The tunnels and the Mobile Bay Bridge only carry four lanes of traffic.  The problem is there is way too much traffic using the Interstate.  Baldwin County and the Eastern Shore has grown in the last 30 years, which means all of those people have to travel to Mobile on the outdated 4-lane freeway.  If a wreck or bad weather happens, good luck getting across Mobile Bay.  Some people still actually think the current facilities including the tunnels are fine, are they so wrong!

Now, supporters of a Mobile River Bridge are going to social media to talk about their message.  The Build the I-10 Bridge Facebook page debuted a few weeks ago, and there is over 5,000 likes already.  Like the page at: https://www.facebook.com/BuildTheI10Bridge

The George Wallace Tunnel is the main route for Interstate 10 and it opened in 1973.  The 4-lane tunnel was designed for 50,000 cars a day, but it typically carries 80,000 vehicles between downtown Mobile and the eastern shore.  That’s more than 29.2 million vehicles a year.  It was designed for 20 million a year.  The tunnel suffers from design flaws like a bad curve on one side of the tunnel and no breakdown lanes if something happens.  The tunnel sees traffic delays often; and when a vehicle breaks down or if there is an accident; good luck!  On normal traffic days the biggest problem is traffic that slows down while leaving the tunnel.  What is there to make you slow down; that is when you use your gas pedal to speed up!

The George Wallace Tunnel is the worst traffic choke point for the entire I-10 corridor that stretches from Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles, CA.  The Jubilee Parkway across Mobile Bay is also a traffic choke point because there is not enough lanes and people like hogging the left lane.  Could that be the reason behind the 200 car pile up in 1995?  Some people do not want a new bridge because they say the proposed bridge visual and economic impact on the city could be harmed.  And large cruise ships can not get under the bridge to the Alabama Cruise Terminal.

Here’s the truth, I-10 traffic is variously predicted to triple or quadruple in the coming 50 years.  With enough lanes, or planned expansion opportunities built-in, the new bridge could easily handle future traffic capacity challenges.  If Florida can build two new 3-lane bridges across Escambia Bay, Alabama can build a new bridge to cross Mobile Bay.  There is even a Change.org petition started by FOX 10 News in Mobile to tell the Federal Highway Administration that Mobile needs a new bridge.  Sign at: http://www.change.org/petitions/federal-highway-administration-mobile-bay-needs-another-bridge-to-alleviate-daily-traffic-jams-tell-the-fha-to-help-alabama-drivers-by-choosing-a-design-for-the-new-bridge-today

ALDOT said it expects the Federal Highway Administration to issue a report with a preferred bridge route soon.  And state transportation officials estimate the entire bridge project will cost $850 million, with about 80 percent of the money coming from the federal government.  State leaders are also thinking about charging a toll to all traffic using the new bridge.  The tolls would be either with a responder or toll by license plate.  You would not stop to pay a toll.

To help build public support, the Mobile Chamber of Commerce has started a Build the Bridge Coalition.  Along with the Facebook page, the chamber is wanting the people to support the new bridge project, because it is badly needed!  In this photo below, route B is the route that is being considered the most.  Click on the picture to view the full PDF file.

I-10 Bridge

I hope the new Mobile River Bridge and Mobile Bay Bridge widening is something everyone will support and like.  There has been some suggestions that the people should have a say in the design of the new bridge and engineering firms and other people should be allowed to submit a bridge design.  I say that is a great idea, this bridge is something everyone in South Alabama will have to see for the next 100 years.  Alabama could design a bridge that the entire state can be proud of!

One thing is for sure; something has to be done to solve the traffic problems in Mobile, AL. If it’s a new bridge, new tunnels, or using existing infrastructure, the traffic choke-point on I-10 has got to go away and soon!