FOLEY – Repaving and widening the Foley Beach Express is expected to start in the spring of 2024.

The Foley City Council voted Nov. 20 to approve a construction agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to start the project. 

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said Friday, Dec. 8, that city officials are now waiting on approval from ALDOT.

“We were ready to go to bid in 2022, a year ago, but they put a hold on it. We’ve had the money in our budget for the past two years,” Hellmich said. “Then we thought we would do it this fall. Now they’re saying that to go through the final stages of their approval process it will probably be February.”

The plan calls for safety lanes to be added to the shoulders of the highway and for the road to be repaved on all of the Beach Express that is maintained by Foley –  from Alabama 59 to the intersection of Baldwin County 12.

Hellmich said city officials hoped to start the project early enough to avoid having lanes closed during the summer tourist season. That schedule might not be possible with the expected timetable.

“The approval process takes 30 days,” Hellmich said. “Then you have a 30 day mitigation time. So we probably won’t be repaving and start until May and it’s a three month job.”

The mayor said postponing the project several more months until after the tourist season would drive up costs.

“Our choice would be to just wait until next fall, but if we do that, the price will probably go up again,” Hellmich said. “During this delay the price of repaving we know has gone up.”

The mayor said state delays have also delayed other projects and costs have gone up while the start of work was postponed.

He said work has not started on the intersection of Baldwin County 12 and Alabama 59.

We’ve been ready to go bid on the intersection for one year. We’re still waiting,” Hellmich said. “In that time, the engineering estimates have gone up significantly.”

He said a bid that was opened for sidewalk projects was also more than the engineering estimates after that project was delayed. The bid of about $1.05 million was about $200,000 more than the initial estimate.

Hellmich said Foley is going forward with other sidewalk projects that do not depend on state funding.

“We have in this new budget $1 million in the general fund that’s budgeted for sidewalks around our city,” Hellmich said. “We have three major sidewalk programs going right now. In the southeast quadrant, we have work on Stabler Farmers Market and Koniar Way. Those are well on your way to being completed and lighted. In the southwest quadrant we have the TAP grant. In the northwest quadrant and the northeast quadrant, that $1 million is going to be applied to take the sidewalk up Cedar Street to Peach Tree all the way to Juniper or as far as the money will go.”