BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — After more than two decades of planning and designing a new bridge to connect Mobile and Baldwin Counties, the construction of the Mobile River bridge could be closer than ever before.

“I was hoping by the end of this year, but more than likely first quarter of 2023,” said President of the Eastern Shore MPO Jack Burrell.

The new span will be tolled. Existing routes like the Causeway, Wallace Tunnel and Africatown bridge will remain toll-free.

“80% of the population of south Alabama agrees with us that we need a solution and we need it sooner rather than later,” said Burrell.

A new poll commissioned by Orange Beach businessman Dean Young agrees a new bridge is needed but not a toll bridge.

“68% of the people in Mobile and Baldwin counties say they do not want a toll,” said Young. 32% of the 488 people polled agreed with the plan that would create a toll bridge.

“We need to build a bridge,” said Young. “It doesn’t need to be a toll bridge it just needs to be a bridge just like they build all over the state of Alabama.”

“Nobody I know of wants a toll,” said Burrell. “But they do want the new capacity, and if that is the only viable option, I think people can live with the toll.”

Young is afraid a toll bridge over Mobile Bay would give license to build other roads and bridges around the state using tolls.

“Absolutely no reason for the government to be doing this. The government is not created to make toll bridges. All of this is wrong,” he said.

The current plan would cap the toll at $2.50. The toll would go away after the bridge is paid for in about 30 years.