FOLEY – The upcoming year will bring the start of major city construction projects in Foley under plans in the 2024 budget.

The Foley City Council voted Tuesday, Sept. 5, to approve the budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Mike Thompson, city administrator, said the budget includes new projects and work that was planned in 2023.

“In ‘24, we’re projecting a $72-million investment in capital projects,” Thompson said. That’s because a lot of these projects that we thought were going to be further along in ‘23 are rolling into ‘24. So we have very large capital projects that are planned. I will say this, $30 million of the $72 million is anticipated to be grant money.”

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the planned projects will help Foley meet the challenges of growth without overspending.

“If we have a similar year, we’ll probably end up with doing a lot more work and still have a lot more money,” Hellmich told council members and city officials. “I think it’s a very conservative, fiscally-responsible budget. And I applaud you guys for being progressive and letting us try to attack this growth by providing the upgraded amenities.”

Upcoming projects include the new facility for the Foley Public Works Department with an estimated cost of $15 million. Work is scheduled to begin on the city’s new library, a $20-million project in early 2024.

The state announced an $5-million grant through the federal Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act that will be used to expand the Graham Creek Nature Preserve Also included in the budget are plans to begin the renovation of the former National Guard armory to be used for city offices and recreation space. That project is budgeted at about $2 million.

Some other projects include intersection improvements at Baldwin County 12 and Alabama 59 intersections for about $1.2 million project and improvements on Philomene Holmes Boulevard in the Graham Creek Preserve for about $1.5 million. 

Restoration work on Wolf Creek is budgeted at about $2.5 million dollars. New hangars at the municipal airport are budgeted at about $1.3 million.

The city also plans to widen the Foley Beach Express. That project is budgeted at about $10 million. The Beach Express widening is one of several projects that had been planned to begin in 2023, but was delayed until the Alabama Department of Transportation could approve the start of construction.

Several projects that had been expected to start in 2023 were delayed. Some, such as the widening of the Beach Express, required approval from other agencies. Supply chain issues and labor shortages also delayed some projects, Thompson said.

Another project that was budgeted for 2023 but is still awaiting outside approval is a safe room for Foley first responders to use during hurricanes or other disasters. That project has an estimated cost of $5.5 million.

Thompson said that while construction has not started on some projects, the planning process is underway.

Thompson said the city may not complete all the projects in the upcoming budget in the next year. Construction of the new library is expected to be completed in 2025. The city will have a great deal of work going on in the upcoming months.

“So I think we’re going to be a lot more successful in moving a much larger number of these capital projects forward in 2024 than we were in ‘23. Because some are right on the cusp of moving forward,” Thompson said.