The Alabama Department of Transportation has released a conceptual video that gives us an idea of what to expect when the new Mobile Bay Bridge gets built. No, we still don't know when that will happen. But at least for now, we can ride across it in this video.
I did notice a couple of things:
1. Where is the bike/walking lane that people were discussing not all that long ago? My wife and I were in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and just LOVED being able to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Let's not leave the bike and walking lanes out of the plan.
2. Don't rule out a carpool lane for two or more people riding together. It may not seem necessary, but it's been proven repeatedly that more and bigger roads create more traffic. It's something that experts call "induced demand." The new bridge will spur further growth on the Eastern Shore and a lot more traffic. To avoid getting right back to where we are now, ALDOT will need to encourage people to share the ride. And a carpool lane does just that.
The bridge design really looks cool and will be a welcome addition to the "skyline" of Mobile. People who use the bridge would pay a toll (no toll booths); but as I've mentioned previously, ALDOT's plan to toll this bridge while maintaining a free Causeway and Bankhead Tunnel creates its own set of traffic problems. The good news is that ALDOT is exploring a plan to give frequent users a toll discount, which could remedy that situation somewhat. Still, my fear is that the Causeway will get hopelessly backed up... because it's a good way to avoid the toll.
There are a lot of things that will need to be worked out. For example, will Florida's SunPass work on the bridge? A law says it should, but that law hasn't been funded or enforced. (My answer: just use SunPass). We can cross that bridge when we come to it (sorry). Still, some of these other questions -- like a bike/pedestrian lane, and the width for a carpool lane or bridge expansion need to be part of the final design.
There are plans for a public meeting about the whole project sometime this fall. We'll keep you posted.