With traffic flow mounting and attractions and housing growing, Foley is looking for ways to ease that flow and provide alternatives to the two major thoroughfares in town.
“The locals all know where not to go,” Mayor John Koniar said. “I think [State Route] 59 is about 40,000 or 50,000 cars a day in the summertime and the [Foley] Beach Express is up to about 25,000 in the summertime.”
With growth along County Road 20 between those two roads continuing with expansions at OWA and other new attractions along the road, the city is planning another link to State Route 59 from that busy street also known as Miflin Road.
“There’s a lot of traffic on it which is a good thing, a good problem to have,” Koniar said. “It’s better than not having traffic.”
The new roadway being planned would take Juniper Street south across County Road 20 and eventually it would turn west to connect with State Route 59 beside Culver’s restaurant. It would create a four-way intersection on the highway with the western connection being County Road 20 South. Koniar said the city hopes to work with the state transportation department and eventually get a traffic signal there.
“The Juniper thing has been talked about for a while,” Koniar said. “Basically, there’s a lot of congestion at that intersection. There’s a signal there already. It would help people coming up from the south, coming up toward OWA or toward our sports complex. It will also create another economic opportunity for those along that area. It’ll be good for the community and also good for the economy.”
Three of the property owners in the area are the Barnwell and Rockstall families and the Woerner Land Company. Koniar said the city is working with them to use the land for the new road.
“We’re negotiating the right of way but it will all be donated,” Koniar said. “We’re working with the Rockstall family and Woerner, who has the Culver’s property. It will tie in, so he donated a right of way also and that’s to his advantage. In theory all the right of way will be donated because we’re increasing the land values for the property owners there. They see the value there.”
Koniar said the engineering estimates for the cost of the project is about $2 million and is budgeted in the city’s capital improvement plans.
The continued expansion of OWA is partly the driver of traffic improvements in the area. Recently the park’s owners announced it will build the Gulf Coast’s largest indoor waterpark, a 200-room resort hotel with conference space and a luxury RV park on the property. In all, OWA will have invested about $350 million in the Foley complex.
Another road project, an extension of Fern Avenue to connect with the Foley Beach Express about a mile north of U.S. Route 98, is on schedule to be completed by the end of the July.
“That will give people south of us, particularly emergency vehicles, a quicker way to get to the hospital and not have to go through downtown,” Koniar said.
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