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Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT)'s application for a US$250 million grant for the I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Widening PPP project to the US Department of Transportation's Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) funding programme has been rejected, threatening the future of the project.
The project involves the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of a new six-lane bridge across the Mobile River, in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, Alabama, a state in the south-east of the USA. The bridge would form part of the I-10, an interstate highway. The concessionaire would also widen the existing I-10 bridges across Mobile Bay from four to eight lanes.
The project is currently in tender. As reported on this platform, four qualified teams were shortlisted in February this year. Members included leading infrastructure developers from around the world, including Ferrovial, Meridiam Infrastructure, ACS, John Laing, Acciona and InfraRed.
The total estimated investment required for the project is US$2 billion.
State officials insist that this rejection will not delay the project. The works are intended to be majority-funded by user charges over the lifetime of the PPP contract. Furthermore, there are other opportunities to apply for grant money, starting later this year. ALDOT submitted the INFRA request in November last year.
In terms of the progress of the project, ALDOT announced with the shortlist that proposals will be due this fall. The authority expected then to choose a winning team by the end of the year. Also, all the federal regulatory approvals for the project are expected to be secured by the end of the year, according to local Congressman Bradley Byrne.
The main aim of the project is to eliminate congestion at the Mobile River crossing, which is currently served by the George C. Wallace Tunnel. The tunnel was constructed in the 1970s and was designed for an anticipated daily traffic count of 36,000. Currently, the tunnel averages 73,300 vehicles per day, and can reach as many as 100,000 vehicles in the peak season, causing heavy congestion and longer travel times.