The U.S. Secretary of Transportation visited Mobile Thursday and vowed to help the area build the proposed Interstate-10 Bridge over the Mobile River.
“I’m going to be fighting for you to get this project done,” Foxx told an audience of political and civic leaders at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
Foxx took a quick driving tour to see firsthand the George Wallace Tunnel – a frequent bottleneck of traffic on I-10. Opened in 1973, it was designed to serve 36,000 vehicles a day. Now the tunnel has twice the traffic.
Foxx says the I-10 Bridge project is a top priority.
“This isn’t just a Mobile issue,” he said. “This is really a much greater regional issue. From adjacent states; Mississippi, Louisiana, going over to Florida, people live with the tie-ups that happen on I-10 every single day.”
Foxx says his agency can help streamline the process but major impediments remain – like financing – and getting a long-term transportation bill passed
“He doesn’t have a bank full of money to fund it but there are so many things that have to be done before we get to the funding,” said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “He can show us the path, the shortcuts.”
Foxx was impressed with the work that has been done locally and Mobile united front to get the bridge project done.
“Mobile does have a plan to do this,” said Foxx. “Your officials are working together. You have your act together. You have your visioning that you’re doing. That is a huge step forward, I have to tell you. But we have to work in Washington to help you out.”
Foxx says Congress must pass a long range transportation bill. Since 2009, Congress has passed 34 short term extensions.
The proposed I-10 bridge would cost about a billion dollars. Right now design work is being done and an environmental impact study finalized.