MOBILE, Ala (WKRG) — The three Republican frontrunners in the race for U.S. Senate have differing views when it comes to a key issue impacting Lower Alabama: the I-10 Bridge and Bayway Project.

The new span over the Mobile River and Mobile Bay has been studied for more than 25 years. Just when it seemed like construction was finally going to begin, the project was derailed in 2019 when Governor Kay Ivey and ALDOT proposed a six-dollar toll, prompting a revolt by Mobile and Baldwin County citizens and the Mobile and Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

Now in 2022, however, building the new bridge is front and center again as a major election issue, maybe the most important campaign subject for those in Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

The three Republican front-runners for U.S. Senate view the project differently.

“I absolutely agree that it has to be done,” Mike Durant told WKRG News 5.

“The federal government needs to step up to the plate,” added Katie Britt.

Both Durant and Britt say they will fight for more federal funding and will make building the bridge a priority if elected.

Mo Brooks, however, has a different opinion.

“We believe in state rights,” Brooks said. 

Brooks believes questions about the bridge project would be better directed to those running for governor, not U.S. Senate.

“It’s up to the state and the cities and counties to determine how they want to prioritize those federal monies that we have given the states for the purpose of maintaining and expanding highways, interstates, and city and county roads,” said the six-term congressman from north Alabama. “The solution, if you want more money, is to talk to the director of ALDOT, and the governor.”

Durant says due to delays and inflation the project will likely require more federal funds than previously discussed.

“If there was an estimate of what this bridge would cost three years ago,  it’s probably no longer valid,” said Durant. “So we need to figure out what the true cost is.

Durant and Britt say the project needs to be done with no, or minimal, tolls.

“I want to work to find a way that the hard-working people in this area aren’t footing the bill for Texas to Disney World traffic,” Britt said.

“Let’s figure out how to get it built without burdening families,” Durant added.

The Mobile and Eastern Shore MPOs are now proposing a plan that would

Fund bridge construction with a $2.50 toll. The existing Bayway, George Wallace Tunnel, Causeway, Bankhead Tunnel, and Africatown Bridge would remain toll-free.