Alabama seeks bidders for $1.8bn bridge PPP

The Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is the state DOT’s first public-private partnership.

The Alabama Department of Transportation has opened a bidding process for partners to develop a bridge project estimated to cost between $1.3 billion and $1.8 billion.

Alabama transportation officials published a request for qualifications from the private sector to increase the capacity of the Interstate 10 bridge over the Mobile River in Alabama. Officials said they are considering financing the project using tolls, federal grants or gas taxes.

A 215-foot-tall, six-lane bridge is planned to relieve traffic congestion into Mobile. The existing crossing is a tunnel built in the 1970s, designed with anticipated daily traffic of around 36,000 vehicles – today it averages around 73,300 vehicles each day. In addition to building the bridge, the project would replace the four-lane Bayway with an eight-lane facility.

Interested bidders must answer the RFQ by 3 November. The Department of Transportation said it plans to release a request for proposals in the spring of 2018, while construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 and completion by 2023.

While Alabama is one of 37 US states with PPP-enabling legislation, the I-10 project would be the first PPP undertaken by the Department of Transportation. In April, members of the team investigating how to build and finance Alabama’s Mobile river bridge visited New York State to learn about best practices used on a similar project, the recently completed Tappan Zee Bridge, which is similar in scale and scope.