MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Alabama Transportation Director John Cooper was in Mobile Wednesday, at first to brief media, but then also briefing a handful of protestors about the planned Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project.
Cooper and his ALDOT staff confirmed the agency is proposing a $6 toll to help finance the project. They are also proposing a monthly pass for frequent users for $90 per month. He says the pass is based on 40 trips per month across the bridge and Bayway and works out to about $2.25 per trip.
A handful of protestors showed up to let their voices be heard about the proposed tolls. After meeting with the media, Cooper also took time to answer their questions and listen to their frustrations.
One woman lamented, “You have no idea what a 90 dollar fee a month can impact a family…”
Alec Thigpen, another protestor told News 5, “And they’re holding these meetings where most people that’s working can’t be here and I think that’s intentional. But I wish they would actually listen to the people and see what they want. We’ve got 27 thousand people just on facebook.”
ALDOT’s Edwin Perry said the Wallace tunnel and the new bridge and Bayway would be tolled in segments, meaning only a portion of the full toll would be charged if a driver only uses a section of it. The Bankhead tunnel, the Causeway and the Africatown bridge would remain free, leading to speculation that many drivers would simply use those routes and avoid the toll.
“There is a tendency to avoid tolls–that’s a decision that an individual can make,” Cooper said.
Cooper also said even with all the planning for the project, there is still an option not to build the $2.1b project. But he said not building it could lead to gridlock on this stretch of the Gulf Coast within the next couple of decades.