FOLEY – Foley is working on plans for improvements along major routes through the city as part of a plan to increase safety for traffic moving through South Baldwin County.

The city and consultants developing the Foley Safety Action Plan held a public meeting recently to discuss preliminary recommendations for the project.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said Foley has been working on the project in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Transportation, which maintains the primary highways through the area, U.S. 98 and Alabama 59.

“What this program does is it identifies safety shortcomings in our city and it gives us a goal of what to work on over the next 20 years,” Hellmich said.

He said the meeting allowed residents to comment on where they think improvements should be made and comment on the initial findings of the study.

“This is basically a public hearing for people to come in and talk about possibilities,” he said. 

The plan process is part of a Federal Highway Administration program 

The mayor said one traffic issue facing Foley is the number of cars passing through the community going to and coming from the Gulf Coast beaches.

“You can’t just say get all the cars off the road. That won’t work,” Hellmich said. “We can’t stop the 28 million cars that come through our city that go to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. That’s just out of our control.”

In the five years from 2018 to 2022, 5,218 traffic accidents occurred in Foley. People died or were seriously injured in 136 of those accidents.

Some recommendations in the draft proposal include replacing the center left-turn lanes on McKenzie Street – Alabama 59 – through the center of Foley, between Underwood Road and Pride Drive, with medians and providing left-turn lanes as needed. Other work in the area includes improvements to make the area more accessible to pedestrians.

The proposal also calls for improvements on other areas of McKenzie Street.

On U.S. 98, the proposal calls for safety measures and pedestrian upgrades at the intersections of Hickory, Cedar, Oak, Pine, Alston and Chicago streets.

The plan also calls for a speed study and traffic calming measures on Hickory Street between Baldwin County 12 and U.S. 98. Other possible measures on Hickory include warning signs with flashers and rumble strips at County 12, narrowing some lanes and installing bicycle lanes.

On Juniper Street, an access management plan would guide future development under the proposal. The intersection with Pride Drive could be improved with flashing yellow signals and switch-operated pedestrian crossings.

Other streets where improvements are proposed include Cedar Street, the Foley Beach Express, Alston Street, Oak Street, Roosevelt Avenue, Poplar Street, 9th Avenue, James Road and other routes in the city.

Hellmich said the safety plan will not only help city officials pinpoint areas where improvements are needed, but could help Foley receive funding to make those improvements.

He said grant providers often ask that communities seeking funding have safety plans in place before considering giving money for projects.