Already being changed with the construction of a travel plaza, the intersection of Foley Beach Express and County Road 8 will soon be the starting point of a new road that will cut through forest and farmland as it heads south to the Intracoastal waterway.
“We expect to take that to contract by the middle of the year,” says Alabama Department of Transportation director, John Cooper.
It’s great news for an area that has struggled with traffic issues for years. “Somewhere in the second and third year we could have another bridge which doubles our capacity and ability to move traffic off this island which is huge,” says Orange Beach mayor Tony Kennon.
The next phase of the project, a bridge over the narrowest part of the canal. About a mile and a half west of the current toll bridge.
The bridge will span the canal without any pilings. “We estimate the phase to Canal Road at about 30 million dollars to get that far,” says Cooper.
Gulf Shores mayor Robert Craft says another bridge would ease transportation issues in his town overnight. “A lot of the traffic that comes through here is going to Orange Beach, going around the toll bridge or getting out of the congestion on Canal Road. So it’s important to us.”
A third phase would take the road all the way to the Beach Highway, traveling through the state park and connecting with State Park Road 2. “If we can eventually and I know it’s a long way off and a lot of hoops to jump through but if we can ever get it to 182, then we can get access to the beach other than 59 and 161,” says Craft.
For now, a new road and a new bridge are good enough.
Construction of the road is expected to begin next April. Bridge construction will happen the following year.