Fifty-five million dollars to spend on three road projects, the continued four-laning of Highway 181, the widening of Highway 31 and expanding Canal Road on Pleasure Island. But not with 55 million dollars. Those three road projects are estimated to cost 125 million, 70 million more than what the legislature allocated from the state settlement with BP over the 2010 oil spill.
“A lot of brain-storming here to think about how we can come up with the additional revenues to solve these problems,” says county commissioner Tucker Dorsey.
State, county, and local leaders met in Orange Beach Wednesday to discuss the dilemma. “I think everyone was pretty much unanimous on the projects that we want to do and how we’re going to fund it and I think we just need to get it done,” said Orange Beach mayor Tony Kennon.
There’s a sense of urgency about getting these projects done and it’s not just about traffic. Local leaders believe that if things change in the governor’s office the deal could change too.
“We’ve got to make this work because these roadways have to be dealt with,” said Kennon.
The most time consuming of the projects, Canal Road with additional lanes added in both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. The other projects could start within the year according to Dorsey. “31 is pretty much ready to go within the next 12 months. 181 to 104 would be ready to go in the next 12 months. The Orange Beach section of 180 could be ready in the next 18 months.”
The next step, securing state matching funds and finding out how much money the RESTORE council is willing to contribute to make up the difference and help make getting around Baldwin County a little easier.
One project still on the drawing board, extending the Beach Express to Interstate 65. The search continues to find the 200 million dollars needed for that project.