This report isn't a roadtrip report per se, but is from a public meeting on November 28, 2001 on the long-proposed Mobile River Bridge on I-10 in Mobile, AL, and represents the bridge plan as is existed at the time.

I-10 Mobile River Bridge/Bayway public hearing (long)

ALDOT hosted a combined public hearing (open house format) on both the proposed Mobile River Bridge, and the proposed Bayway (I-10 crossing of Mobile Bay) widening. Roaddog (Alex Nitzman) was unable to attend due to prior domestic commitments...;o) I went on alone, and took notes:


The proposed bridge is a cable-stayed bridge, 3 lanes each direction with 10' shoulders on each side, Y-shaped main piers (as opposed to the H-shaped piers on the Cochran Bridge to the north), and will be located just south of the Wallace Tunnel. ALDOT's consultant (Volkner, IIRC), designed it in such a way that there is only one private property (a drydock) that would need to be acquired...the rest of the land is either city-owned or state-owned. From west to east:

The west end of the approach span begins between Virginia St and TEXAS St, and rises on a 4% grade. It begins parallel to, and outside of, the existing I-10 lanes here. Near the Water St exit, it curves to the right as it continues its ascent. In fact, the EB approach span will go directly over the EB off-ramp to Water St for a short ways.

The main span is 1250' long, with a minimum clearance of 190' (commented by one official at the hearing to be the second highest clearance in the US across a navigable channel). Of the two main bridge piers, one will be on land off the west side of the river, while the other is in the river, near the eastern side. The cables will stretch 475' west of, and 575' east of, the main piers (asymmetrical due to the Water St. interchange).

East of the main span, the bridge takes two curves to the right, separated by a short straight stretch, coming down on another 4% grade, and ends in the median of the "Bayway", roughly even with the entrance to the USS Alabama battleship park.

The bridge is built primarily with I-10 through traffic in mind (which comprises 60% of overall I-10 traffic in the area, based on traffic studies). Existing I-10, including the Water St and Bankhead interchanges, as well as the Wallace Tunnel, will remain open, and will serve traffic heading to downtown. No clue yet as to what each route will be signed as.

On the western (Mobile) side, there'll be some ramp/lane changes. The EB on-ramp from Broad St will be widened to 2 lanes...which, in conjunction with a 5th EB lane that begins just east of the Broad St overpass, will give 7 lanes on the EB approach to the bridge/downtown split. 4 lanes will continue to downtown, as is the case today, while the right 3 lanes split off for the bridge. Westbound, instead of having 7 lanes merge into 4 in a short space (about 1/2 mile), the proposal is to taper off the lanes coming from downtown, 1 at a time, prior to and at the downtown/bridge merge, in order to minimize the potential bottleneck. The actual gore in both directions will be just north(east) of Texas St. Also, the ramps at Texas St (half-diamond to/from the east) will be removed, and the interchange at Virginia St will be reconstructed into a standard diamond, with the eastern ramps accessible to/from the bridge (but not downtown).


This one's pretty simple. ALDOT plans on widening the I-10 Bayway from 4 to 8 lanes, from where the proposed Mobile River Bridge merges in, east to the US 90/98 interchange in Daphne. The additional lanes will be added in the "median", and the left shoulder widened from the current 5'3" to the standard 10'. This will reduce the median (defined here as edge of left lane to edge of left lane) from the existing 139'3" to 73' (slightly narrower near the eastern shore). The US 90/98 interchange ramps will be reconstructed in the same configuration as exists today, and the 8 laning will end just east of the interchange.

People were generally supportive of the proposed river bridge. Many eastern shore residents are skeptical of the bayway widening, though.  They're worried about the additional traffic they claim will be dumped on US 98 through Daphne, which is already problematic. I got into an interesting discussion with two Daphne residents about the traffic problems on US 98, who said that many have moved to Daphne to avoid the congestion in Mobile. My general perception is that they want to have their cake and eat it too. One item complicating potential solutions along US 98 is that the city of Daphne is adamant that all the trees planted along the route remain (including the ones in the median).

I was even interviewed by a reporter for WKRG-5 (the local CBS affiliate).....dunno if I made the 10pm news or not...

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