Pumping Up Mobile's Riverfront

Pumping Up Mobile's Riverfront

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The Alabama Cruise Terminal, GulfQuest Maritime Museum, Cooper Riverside Park and the Convention Center line Mobile'S Riverfront.  All carry a hefty price tag and all are underutilized.

"We have over 100 million dollars worth of assets that we feel disconnected from," said Mayor Sandy Stimpson.

Mayor Stimpson met with other mayors and engineers to brainstorm about pumping up our port. One of the biggest problems is Water Street. The mayor says people simply don't walk it and crossing it is unsafe.

"You have a six lane thoroughfare that doesn't have safe crossings, and if we can't walk downtown, it's not going to work. Parking was not considered a problem for downtown. What they saw was the lack of connectivity between all of our venues and the lack of signage," said Stimpson.

I found a group visiting from Iowa who agrees.

"When we first came in parking was great. We found some signs and stuff to park by the plaza and that was really nice, but after we got out of the car. We weren't sure exactly where to go. We went to see the waterfront and right now we can't see it because of the train. But ah, we were just hoping to see the water and what's it's all about. So far, it seems pretty industrial," said Luke Green, who is volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

A major changed already in the works is redesigning the interchange that connects water and I-10 going into the Wallace tunnel.

"It will be let for bids hopefully this fall or this winter to start the process, to start the construction and once construction starts I think it's about a 3 year project to get it all done. But it will eliminate the bottleneck at the mouth of the tunnel," said Stimpson.

When it comes to the cruise terminal, the mayor shoots down the idea of gambling on the riverfront.

"I would not like to see a casino go in there," he said.

He says while we wait on a ship, the terminal could be used as an extension of GulfQuest for extra parking and put possible restaurants inside.

Other ideas tossed around are a ferry from the Maritime Museum to Battleship Park and a display at Gulfquest that shows how the Austal and Airbus assembly lines work. The mayor says he's invited an engineer to Mobile who specializes in walkable streets and access to start the vision of revamping Water street. He's also invited a cruise line to come in April to do some test cruising from the terminal, but the mayor did not say which cruise company it is.

WKRG Staff Note: Original story posted March 10, 2014 contained "Bankhead tunnel," but instead it is the "Wallace tunnel" that connects with Water Street and I-10.
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