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Governor Ivey signs paperwork of state purchase of Foley Express Toll Bridge

On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) held a ceremonial paperwork signing accepting locally-owned roadway and right of way assets related to the state's purchase of the Foley Beach Express toll bridge. Gov. Ivey was joined by local officials in Baldwin County at the ceremonial bill signing.

The state's purchase of the bridge will make its use toll-free for Alabamians and visitors. Additionally, it will help alleviate traffic congestion for citizens living in the area. Governor Ivey announced the state's purchase April 2024.

"Our 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," said Gov. Ivey. "I am proud of the significant progress we are making on infrastructure projects. In fact, we are making so much headway down here that I think folks in other parts of the state are taking notice."

Baldwin County is one of the fastest growing areas in the state so relieving the traffic congestion for residents and tourists alike seeking access to the Gulf of Mexico fronting beaches is vitally important.

Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones Wadsworth told the Alabama Gazette, "Routes to all of Alabama's beaches are now toll-free, which can lead to increased economic activity and improved traffic flow. Eliminating the toll reduces the financial burden on employees who commute to and from work, which is especially helpful during inflation. Congestion and travel times will hopefully improve as well since vehicles do not have to slow down or stop at toll booths. Furthermore, the toll-free bridge will make the Gulf Coast more accessible to residents from rural areas in south Alabama and neighboring states, thus linking communities and improving regional connectivity - just in time for summer."

Over the past year, Baldwin County and Foley asked the Alabama Department of Transportation to assume maintenance responsibilities for its portions of the Beach Express route from Interstate 10 all the way to Orange Beach via the Baldwin Beach Express toll bridge. With the agreement for the state to buy the Beach Express bridge, Orange Beach, Foley and Baldwin County agreed to withdraw from their agreements related to the bridge. Gulf Shores is granting right of way to ALDOT for access to the new bridge it's building over the Intracoastal Waterway. When the new bridge is completed, one bridge will be for southbound traffic and the other will be for northbound traffic. ALDOT has long term plans to widen the old bridge once the new bridge comes on line.

Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich, Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon and Baldwin County Commission Chair Billie Jo Underwood signed the various documents related to the state's pending ownership and the end of tolling. Motorists stopped having to pay the tolls at noon Thursday, May 23, with the completion of the financial closing process.

"It took a lot of teamwork to get us here today, and I know we are all excited to put pen to paper and make this purchase official," said Governor Ivey praising the many engineers and attorneys involved in this process.

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) purchased the Foley Beach Express Bridge for $57 million. An additional $3 million will be paid to the city of Orange Beach for its use with local road improvements. Governor Ivey announced the purchase April 2024.

ALDOT will remove the toll booths and re-stripe the roadway for free-flowing traffic next month.

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