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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Fall 2003 arrow Alabama: Construction of the I-10 Bridge, Mobile
Alabama: Construction of the I-10 Bridge, Mobile

Agency: Federal Highway Administration

The waterfront of Mobile, Alabama, features many historic properties, including the Dauphin Street and Church Street East Historic Districts and the Old Southern Market Building/Old City Hall, which is a National Historic Landmark.

The Federal Highway Administration proposes to build a bridge across Mobile’s bay to ease traffic congestion. To accommodate ships, however, the proposed bridge will be 190 feet high—only 20 feet shorter than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. In addition to the bridge’s visual intrusion, an increase in vehicle access to the waterfront may adversely affect some of the city’s historic properties.

To improve the Interstate 10 corridor between Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Alabama, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) plans to construct a six-to-eight lane cable-stayed suspension bridge over the Mobile River.

To allow tall cargo and passenger ships to continue using the bay, the bridge’s central span would be 190 feet high—making it the second tallest bridge over a port in the country. Comparatively, the roadway would be 15 feet taller than both the Baytown Bridge in Houston, Texas, and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida, and would be only 20 feet shorter than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. In addition, the bridge’s supporting pylons would be approximately 500 feet tall—the height of a 45-story building.

FHWA acknowledges that the size of the bridge will have a visual effect on the Mobile Central Business District, and, as required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, will enter into a Memorandum of Agreement to address the project’s anticipated adverse effects on historic properties.

The proposed bridge—which will dominate the skyline and increase traffic to the waterfront—has important preservation implications for a number of Mobile’s historic structures. FHWA has thus far determined that the Old Southern Market Building/Old City Hall National Historic Landmark would be adversely affected by the project. At least 25 other individual historic structures and two historic districts, however, will be in the vicinity of the proposed bridge, including the Dauphin Street and Church Street East Historic Districts, and Old Fort Conde, a reconstructed 18th-century French fort.

In August 2003, the ACHP notified Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta that it would participate in consultation on the project to resolve the proposed project’s adverse effects. In addition, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Mobile Historic Development Commission have been granted consulting party status under the Section 106 process.

Recent reports indicate that FHWA will undertake a full Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed project. How this will affect Section 106 consultation will be determined.

Staff contact: Tom McCulloch

Posted May 27, 2004

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