Interstate 210 Alabama
Interstate 210 was to be the missing link to the city of Mobile, Alabama’s belt line freeway system. The highway, proposed in an 6.25 by 2.5 mile corridor between downtown Mobile and Prichard, Alabama, came to its climax by 1982. Planning saw five alternative alignments (originally classified A, B, C, D-2, and D-31) with a “Spur” alternate also equally evaluated as a building option.2
The freeway was always planned as a six lane facility, with the exception of a four lane possibility through the central business district of Mobile (the alignment south of Beauregard Street)2. 1982 cost ranges placed Interstate 210 within $104-212 million and the Mobile Area Transportation Study network simulations slated between 24,000 and 65,000 vpd (vehicles per day) by 2005 for Interstate 210.
Interstate 210 needed to fulfill several specific transportation needs for the Mobile Urban Area in 1982. The Mobile area experienced a resurgence in economic and population growth after a period of decline in the 1960s, while the growth rate of the city expected to be 50% higher than that of the state of Alabama for the coming decade. Additionally the soon to be completed Tennesee-TomBigbee Waterway connects the Port of Mobile4 to the entire Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, thus enhancing of future growth/economic climates of Mobile, Prichard, Chickasaw and Saraland in conjunction with increased accessibility via Interstate 210.
- Shorter and more economic route for commercial and industrial traffic between the State Docks and the industrial support areas to the north along the Mobile River and Chickasaw Creek
- Provision of shorter, safer, and direct accessibility for the Central Business District of Mobile and Prichard
- Enhanced accessibility for tourists traveling to various historic sites and districts in the City of Mobile and the early 1980s designated Africa Town Multiple Resources Area of Prichard
- Completion of the Urban Interstate System linking the Mobile Central Business District with all areas of the city
- Enhanced motorist and pedestrian safety by the separation of commercial and through traffic from the local city traffic circulation on surface streets in Mobile and Prichard
- Increase capacity and resulting improvements in level of service on existing segments of Interstate 10, I-65 and local surface streets
- Reduction in the overall road user costs for the entire Mobile Urban Area transportation system through higher speeds, reduction of accidents, and reduction of travel time delays
The Interstate 210 corridor partitioned into a Northern, Middle, and Southern Corridor. A focus on the Southern Corridor reveals three general plans, all of which utilize the Water Street right-of-way. Alignment “S-1″ takes Interstate 210 elevated on the center line median of Water Street. Alignment”S-4” parallels Water Street to the east on either a structure (elevated viaduct) or on fill. Alignment “S-6” sees Interstate 210 built over adjacent railroad tracks east of Water Street. It is stated in the 1982 Environmental Impact Study that “all build alternatives in the Mobile Central Business District Area, except the spur, would tend to reinforce the visual separation of the city from its developed waterfront.” The options above illustrate that assessment.
The Middle and Northern Corridors of Interstate 210 saw two general paths. Alignment “A” sees a new structure built to the west of Telegraph Road. Alignments “B”, “C”, and “D” diverge from “A” at Three Mile Creek swamp either above Telegraph Road or just west of the railroad tracks that parallel Telegraph Road. These eastern alignments would involve more resident displacement as they intrude upon the Plateau neighborhood area of the city of Prichard.
- Interstate 10 at Water Street – all movements
- Water Street north of Government Street – possibility of adding slip ramps from Interstate 210 northbound to Water Street northbound and from Water Street southbound to Interstate 210 southbound was considered with the “S-1” alignment. This interchange would be constructed in lieu of improvements to the West Tunnel interchange with Interstate 10.
- Beauregard Street – all movements (access from Conception Street, Water Street, Telegraph Road to Interstate 210). The “Spur” option would only include ramps to and from the north (folded diamond)
- Bay Bridge/Telegraph Road – all movements (except alignment “D-2”). Alternate “A” requires a relocation of Bay Bridge Road.
- Wilson and Craft Highway via use of frontage roads
- Interstate 65 terminal – three level interchange near Gum Tree Branch
The “Spur” Alignment (Interstate 165)
The “Spur” concept saw preparation by the City of Mobile during public involvement programs as an alternate solution to the issue of blocking the Central Business District View and contact with the Alabama State Docks and Mobile River waterfront. The spur concept followed three alternatives that were introduced and subsequently rejected in the preliminary stage. These options included an alignment to the east of Mobile via Blakeley Island, a “no-build” alternative, and a spur alternative that ended the freeway north of Beauregard Street. The Blakeley Island proposal was dropped during the preliminary stages due to low traffic use projections compared to the other alternatives reflected in rather low road user benefits figures5. Additionally environmental and other negative impacts were factored into the demise of the Blakeley Island concept. The “no-build” concept was based upon alternative factors such as improving existing infrastructure and the introduction or expansion of existing mass transit facilities. The Beauregard Street terminal was formally presented to ALDOT in a treatise accompanying the Mobile City Commission – Planning Commission joint resolution on April 1, 1982. This concept saw rejection due to the confluence of the south end of the freeway with the Telegraph and Conception Road intersections. Additionally it was stated that the resultant congestion of such a confluence would result in a “poor level of service”, adverse conditions for access to the State Dock’s bulk cargo and container operations, and unacceptable congestion around the Mobile Housing Board’s elderly public housing project west of Conception Street.
- 1958 – Formal Interstate funding request submitted to the Federal Government for the facility
- Early 1960s – Mobile’s Comprehensive Development Plan identified the Interstate 210 Connector as a route
- 1966-67 – Public hearings held for the corridor with a second request for Interstate funding submitted to the Federal Government in 1968.
- 1974 – ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) requests funding for Interstate 210 under the Urban High Density Traffic Program
- 1976 and 77 – Corridor studies documented need for Interstate 10 to Interstate 65 link.
- 1980 – Interstate 210 Connector approved consisting of 6.25 miles in nominal length.
- 1980 – The Interstate 210 designation became official by Public Law 96-400 during October.
- 1982 – Environmental Impact Study conducted
The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) approved the establishment of Interstate 210 on June 26, 1981. The route number was previously assigned by the FHWA subject to concurrence of AASHTO on November 20, 1980. The corresponding map outlined a route along Water Street and U.S. 43 (Telegraph Road) north from Downtown Mobile to a point north of Diaz Street, then west to I-65 where the north end of I-165 was eventually constructed. The request from ALDOT read:
To afford the traveling public an opportunity to travel through the business part of Mobile where there are no deficiencies in highway design.
The proposed route will provide a Connecting link between I-10 and I-65 in Mobile.
Ultimately the Beauregard Street “Spur” concept refused in the preliminary stages was approved for construction. ALDOT requested the renumbering of the route from I-210 to Interstate 165 and on June 7, 1989, AASHTO approved the change. The application reason read similar to the one for I-210, but with the addition of
Due to recent court actions, it is requested that this route be designated Interstate Route 165.
The proposed route will provide a connecting link between 1-65 and water street connection to I-1O. (Junction of Beauregard Street).
The court actions referenced in the AASHTO application were covered in a letter from the FHWA to ALDOT on April 19, 1989:
We note the I-210 connector between I-65 and I-IO was approximately 6.25 miles in length and was approved November 20, 1980. The present approval revises the original length to approximately 4.90 miles and renumbers the route I-165. This change is pursuant to the recent court ruling (Civil Action No. 84-1219-C-S) that shortens the I-210 connector by terminating it near Beauregard Street in lieu of its former connection with I-1O. The result is a spur route from I-65 to Beauregard Street instead of a connector route.
This approval is with the understanding that in no case shall the eligible cost of construction of this spur route exceed the eligible cost of the originally authorized connector route if it had been constructed.
Interstate 165 ultimately opened to traffic in October 1994.
Source: “I-210 connector from I-10 to I-65, Mobile, Alabama: draft environmental impact statement/U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and State of Alabama Highway Department (1982):
- Alternate “A” represents the current Interstate 165 alignment. The remaining alignments diverged to the east of the Plateau neighborhood of eastern Prichard.
- the “Spur” alternative was not eligible for federal Interstate funding under the law that designated the Interstate 210 Connector. The “Spur” alternate would end at Congress Street.
- the “Spur” option includes a widening of Water Street to eight lanes with additional turn lanes.
- The Port of Mobile is situated at the east end of Beauregard Street along the Mobile River.
- The Blakeley Island alternative exceeded the allowable corridor length of the Congressionally mandated corridor by 1.7 miles. Additionally the alternative did not serve the Mobile urban core or the State Docks.
Page updated June 2, 2022.