A few hours after sunrise on Wednesday, the first signs of the future I-10 bridge project are visible on the banks of the Mobile River.
Employees with Thompson Engineering are busy using a drill rig to dig hundreds of feet underground to gather soil samples. It’s the first day of field testing for the local agency since they were awarded the project earlier this summer.
“We’ll be looking below the ground for the next few months to see what’s down there and see what soil conditions are there that will impact the design because this is going to be a very tall bridge with very tall tower. So, we’re trying to figure out what that’s all about,” Jimmy Shumock, CEO of Thompson Engineering, explained.
Shumock said the results from the soil testing will help them determine how deep they need to drive the piers and how large those piers need to be to support the bridge.
When they finish testing the soil across from Cooper Riverside Park, they’ll move to another location along the Bayway to collect enough data to apply for environmental permits.
“Once we get all those clearances and get approval, then that’s step one. We’ve got to focus on that right now. Without that we can’t really move forward with the project,” Shumock said.
He predicts it will take three months for them to finish their preliminary testing, but it could take two years before they obtain all of the environmental clearances they need to move forward.
Once those are in check, Thompson Engineering will finish their design for the bridge while the ALDOT figures out funding to start construction.