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Alabama to buy privately-owned Foley Beach Express bridge

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(The Center Square) — The state of Alabama is buying the privately-owned Foley Beach Express Bridge in Orange Beach will end tolls when the sale closes in May.

Alabama Department of Transportation will operate the Beach Express Bridge toll-free, continuing to carry southbound and northbound traffic. State officials say a new bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway will be completed in spring or summer 2026.

Once that bridge is completed, the Beach Express Bridge will be converted to a one-way bridge with all of its lanes carrying northbound traffic. The new bridge will carry southbound traffic, creating what ALDOT calls “one-way pairs” to “move traffic more efficiently to and from Alabama’s beaches.”

Tolls on the bridge range for $5 for two axles to $9 for six axles, with an additional dollar added per axle for every axle more than six.

“Alabama’s Gulf Coast continues to experience record growth and success, and I am proud we are making needed infrastructure improvements in the area that will help alleviate traffic congestion for Alabamians and those visiting our beaches,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a news release. “I appreciate Mayor Kennon, the Baldwin County Bridge Company, the Alabama Department of Transportation and all those involved in this agreement that will lead to significant progress for our coastal communities.”

The route from Interstate 10 will become State Route 161.

ALDOT will pay $57 million to Baldwin County Bridge Company for the bridge and $3 million to Orange Beach for local road improvements. It will also fund a project to widen Canal Road to five lanes between the planned bridge and the existing one.

Under the deal, the lawsuit filed by the bridge owners to prevent the state from building a competing bridge in Gulf Shores has been resolved.

“This agreement is the result of collaborative efforts between ALDOT, the city of Orange Beach and the Baldwin County Bridge Company and was made possible by the city’s willingness to forego annual financial benefits in order to achieve improved traffic flow for Orange Beach and Gulf Shores citizens and visitors,” said Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon in a news release. “On behalf of the Orange Beach City Council, I would like to thank Governor Ivey for working with us to eliminate tolls and improve traffic flow and efficiency to and from our Alabama beaches.”

The Orange Beach City Council is scheduled to vote on the agreement at its regular meeting May 7.

“Since 2000, the Baldwin County Bridge Company’s staff have been honored to serve the community and are proud to have provided a safe and reliable route to the beach for nearly a quarter century,” said Baldwin County Bridge Company president Neal Belitsky in a news release.

The bridge will cease opening new accounts or modification of existing accounts April 30 and those with accounts can add funds until May.

Once the deal closes, bridge officials will start refunding remaining account balances in June.

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