MOBILE, Ala. (WRKG) — In a caravan of SUV’s, Governor Kay Ivey and local dignitaries made multiple stops around Mobile on Wednesday.
Ivey toured the Merchants National Bank, her former place of employment, to see how the state historic tax credits are helping transform the building into a luxury apartment complex. Then, Ivey met with members of the Chamber of Commerce at the new Innovation Portal before traveling over to USA Medical Center where she awarded $4 million towards a much-needed expansion of the hospital’s Level 1 trauma center.
The visit, part of the Governor’s statewide ‘Listen, Learn, Help, and Lead’ tour, was aimed at learning the needs of the community. And, if there’s one project many in Mobile say they need, it’s the I-10 bridge project.
“We’ll actually have a briefing on the I-10 bridge by Vince Calametti,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said after they finished a tour of the Merchants National Bank, “We will stifle and choke commerce and choke growth if we don’t build a bridge”
The briefing the Stimpson referred to happened behind closed doors. When we asked the Governor about the project during a press conference at USA Medical Center before the briefing, we were told to ‘stay tuned.’
Later, Ivey’s press secretary informed us the Governor would no longer be talking to the media after lunch and would instead proceed directly into a round table discussion with other dignitaries.
When we tried to ask the Governor again, the media was forced to leave the event.
Calametti, Regional Engineer for ALDOT, did speak to us beforehand saying that funding is still the project’s biggest hurdle, and they’re strongly considering a public-private partnership.
“That would bring a toll portion to it. This bridge is going to be very expensive. It’s going to be more than twice what the state’s annual transportation budget is. So, it’s just not something we can afford from our state or federal funds. We have to look at innovative ways to produce the project,” Calametti says if they solve the funding problem It’s possible to start construction in 2019.