The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is looking for a private firm to finance, build and maintain a new $500 million toll bridge across the Tennessee River in Decatur, Ala. If the bridge brings in enough revenue, the agency may consider adding doing more public-private toll projects across the state. Motorists and truck drivers have been asking for a solution to traffic flow problems on the existing Hudson Memorial Bridge, which carries about 51,000 vehicles a day; 14% of that total includes truck traffic. Alabama currently has four other toll bridges, but they are all privately owned. ALDOT has been looking to similar projects like SH 130 in Texas and the Elizabeth River Tunnels in Virginia for inspiration. The way the agency envisions the project, the private firm would control the entire construction process and operate the bridge as long as it takes to recoup all of its investment plus make a profit, which the agency expects would take 30 to 35 years. ALDOT would maintain quality control over the project, and the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority would set toll rates. At present, the suggested toll rate for cars is $2. Trucks would be expected to pay three times the passenger car rate. Assuming ALDOT finds a private partner, bridge construction is expected to begin in 2016. According to the agency, the existing Hudson Memorial Bridge would stay in place as a free option for crossing the river. ALDOT is also considering adding tolled lanes to Alabama 20 to improve traffic flow during peak travel times.
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