I read with interest the letter from mayors Tony Kennon (Orange Beach) and Robert Craft (Gulf Shores) about another bridge onto Pleasure Island. As a full-time resident of Orange Beach, I hear conversations about this virtually every day.
I believe most people on the island agree with the mayors that we need another bridge. There may also be some consensus that the traffic flow is limited by the fact that the only two north-south corridors across the island are State Route 59 and Orange Beach Boulevard. The big issue is where another bridge should go.
Mayor Kennon clearly wants the bridge from the vicinity of Doc’s Seafood to the point near Barber’s Marina. There is a good bit of conversation in Orange Beach about this disrupting the scenic beauty of the Wolf Bay/Bay La Launch area. My question goes more to the issue of who would actually use this bridge, which would empty onto rural roads with no foreseeable plan to steer that traffic onto larger highways.
I have frequent visitors from many locations and all would continue to use the Baldwin Beach Express from the west, from Birmingham and from locations to the Northeast. I would be very reluctant to use such a bridge as an evacuation route because of the fear of a bottleneck on the rural roads to the north. Frankly, I have no idea who in Orange Beach or visiting Orange Beach would use the bridge as a major point of access to the island.
I have no idea what the best solution is. There are many people in favor of a new bridge to the west of the toll bridge at The Wharf, but I am not sure how the obvious bottleneck this would create at the west end of Canal Road would be resolved.
I hope mayors Kennon and Craft will gather opinions from island residents who live in various locations and consider all options. Until there is a third road across the island itself, those options are obviously limited.
Thomas S. Bennett