Wanna buy a bridge? We’ll sweeten the deal with three expressways and a tunnel.
American Roads, the owner of the Foley Beach Express, three other toll roads in Alabama and a tunnel between Michigan and Canada, is for sale, according to Neal Belitsky.
“We anticipate that this will be wrapped up sometime this year,” Belitsky said. “We are owned by another company, Syncora, and Syncora has put the company up for sale. The company will stay together and the assets will stay together.”
His company’s bridge is just one of three being talked about in the resort areas of South Baldwin County. The city of Orange Beach is planning a span over Wolf Bay from the area of Doc’s Seafood Shack to a north landing on private property. West of the Foley Beach Express bridge the state is working on a corridor from the express road just south of County Road 8 to a bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway just west of the Orange Beach Water Treatment Plant and Jack Edwards Airport.
Belitsky’s company originally planned several improvements on the Foley span and the toll plaza during the offseason, but none of that work has been undertaken.
“The problem again is real estate and land-use issues and we are resolving those,” he said. “To do the work during the season just doesn’t make any sense. We’ll pick up on that after [the season].”
The company had planned on restriping the bridge into a three-lane configuration, making the center reversible depending on traffic volume. There were also plans to add toll booths and widen the approach to the toll plaza on the north side. Both plans are on hold.
Belitsky said the company will still add video tolling this spring. Cameras will photograph license plates and debit customers who are signed up for the program. Those who are not will be sent a bill to the address registered for the plate.
“The improvements we are making will triple the capacity of the Beach Express Bridge and dramatically accelerate the flow of traffic,” Belitsky said.
Belitsky said information on how the video tolling works and how to sign up will be released in April; the plan is to have the system running by Memorial Day.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said preliminary work is underway on the Wolf Bay Bridge but there is no timeline on when the city hopes to start construction.
“We are still in the permitting and design phase, which is a 12- to 18-month time period,” he said. “We’re hoping it’s closer to 12. At the end of that phase, if we are permitted we plan to move forward with beginning construction as quickly as possible.”
Kennon said landowners on the north side — David Lawrenz and George Barber — are ready to proceed and expect growth in the area, which is mostly open land.