The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) said inflation and high interest rates are the reasons behind a review of costs for the I-10 Mobile River and Bayway project.

1819 News first reported Thursday that the project was being put on a 60-day hold for the review of cost-saving options. The project could now cost up to $3.5 billion. ALDOT said that since the plans were put into motion in 2020, the construction, materials and labor costs have increased.

“We all hoped that the next significant step would be the setting of a timeline for moving to construction within the 2024 calendar year,” said ALDOT Chief Engineer Ed Austin. “However, all the information accumulated at this point has convinced us of the need for deeper review and study. This review period will take at least 60 days before we can determine the next steps forward.”

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson noted that work has been done, but for now, planning for costs and refining construction cost estimates are a priority.

“This project has made tremendous progress since 2019,” said Stimpson. “Construction is nearly shovel ready. That said, this project – like other construction projects around the country – faces the headwinds of inflation and interest rates. It is a wise choice for ALDOT to take time to refine cost estimates and look at additional funding options.”

Jack Burrell, the chairman of the Eastern Shore MPO, told 1819 News the federal government will pay for $125 million that was secured years ago. ALDOT has committed to $250 million. However, Burrell said if other funding sources cannot be identified, the remainder of the project will be paid for through toll revenue.

 “They’re trying to get us the best deal,” said Burrell. “We don’t want to be paying for this bridge forever. In lieu of any federal funding that we had hoped to receive – and we’re still fighting for that – there’s just some unknowns and they want to dry to drill it down and drill down on the cost-savings.”

“The leadership shown by local officials has been outstanding,” Austin added. “It has allowed for significant progress to be made. But between increases in inflation and interest rates, it is frustrating but not surprising that project estimates are rising. Every major construction project in the country is being affected by economic factors, so it makes sense to work with local officials and explore potential cost-saving measures. We look forward to continuing our close and productive partnership.”

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