BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – Leaders on both sides of Mobile Bay are calling it the “framework” in order to get an I-10 Bayway/Mobile River Bridge project back on the table. It’s not the final plan, but members of the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Mobile MPO both agree tolling is the only solution.

“Tolls will be temporary and any additional funding we are able to secure will go towards paying down the debt and/or decreasing the toll duration,” said Eastern Shore MPO Chairman Jack Burrell during a news conference Wednesday.

Both organizations say a $2.50 toll will be in place to go back and forth across the new bridge, but existing toll-free routes, including the tunnels and causeway, will remain open. Burrell tells WKRG News 5 the tolling would only last until the debt is paid in full. Officials expect the project to be added to the long-term transportation improvement plan, or TIP, within the next 60 to 90 days. $125 million of federal funding will be used for a new bridge along with $250 million officials expect to receive at the state level.

Even though Spanish Fort Mayor Mike McMillan supports the new framework, he wants the Alabama Department of Transportation to take a good look at what this will mean for the causeway.

“Add lanes, add turning lanes and those kinds of things because when people are turning to cross traffic there’s going to be some safety issues that have to be reviewed,” said McMillan, speaking on the issues he expects to arise during construction. 

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson agrees improvements on the causeway may be needed during the construction phase.

“ALDOT recognizes that there will be greater use on the causeway and it will require either more maintenance or some other attention so we don’t wear it out sooner let’s say,” Stimpson said. 

Officials say the new 6-lane bridge would take 5 years to build if approved. It’s important to note large trucks would likely be tolled $15 or more with these latest talks.