FOLEY – Work will start soon on the long-awaited project to widen and repave the Foley Beach Express through the city.

Mobile Asphalt Company was the lowest bidder on the project, which will also include additional safety improvements on the route, which extends on the Beach Express from Baldwin County 12 north to the highway’s intersection with Alabama 59.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the city approved the project about two years ago, but has been waiting for approval from the Alabama Department of Transportation before work could begin.

“The good news is we can start. It is a 250-day contract. This is a big project and it is a long-awaited project,” Hellmich said. “This will make the Foley Beach Express an even safer road with the safety shoulders, which is very important, to match the Baldwin Beach Express north and south of here.”

The average daily traffic count on the Foley Beach Express is more than 20,000 vehicles, according to Alabama Department of Transportation reports.

City officials had hoped to start work to improve the highway in late 2023. The 250-day work schedule will have the project going on during the summer tourist season. Hellmich said, however, that if the project were to be postponed, costs would be expected to increase.

“We thought about trying to put it off until September, but if we do that then the asphalt goes up here we’re gonna have to come back and ask you for more money,” Hellmich told City Council members.

The four-lane Foley Beach Express was completed in 2000. The total length of the highway from the Intracoastal Waterway in Orange Beach to Alabama 59 is about 14.7 miles.

An extension was later added north from Foley to Interstate 10. That 13.2-mile section, known as the Baldwin Beach Express, was completed in 2014.