FOLEY – As Alabama prepares to buy the bridge at the southern end of the Foley Beach Express, city officials are continuing plans to improve the route before it becomes a state highway.

The Alabama Department of Transportation has announced plans to buy the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in Orange Beach. State officials said the toll over the bridge will be eliminated when the purchase is completed.

Foley has been working with ALDOT to repave and widen the city’s portion of the Beach Express north of the bridge and to turn the highway over to the state when the improvements are completed.

City officials met with ALDOT representatives recently to discuss work on the expressway. The city is also working with ALDOT to improve signals at several intersections in the city.

Work to widen and repave the route is expected to begin by April 30. The project is scheduled to take 250 working days to complete. The Foley City Council voted in March to approve a contract to improve the road. 

The turnover will put the entire route under state ownership from Orange Beach to Interstate 10.

The council voted April 15, to approve a survey of the boundaries and right of way on the Foley Beach Express. 

Mike Thompson, city administrator, said the survey will confirm the limits of municipal property along the route.

“So this would create that boundary for the Foley Beach Express itself,” Thompson said.

He said Foley has more property along some sections of the Beach Express than might be needed by ALDOT for right of way. 

“It varies,” he said. “Some are maybe 100 feet. Some are 140, 150 feet, and that’s something that we’ll need to think about when we get to the point where we’re going to transfer ownership to ALDOT.”

City Councilman Charles Ebert III said the property not needed by the state could be used for other purposes.

“We’re going to have projects in the future where we’ll need utility rights of way, bypass and sidewalks and other things,” Ebert said.

The Foley Beach Express opened between Foley and the bridge in 2000. 

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

The Beach Express was extended north to Interstate 10 in 2014. 

Sections of the Beach Express outside Foley, north of the city and south of Baldwin County 12 were turned over to ALDOT by the Baldwin County Commission in 2023.