The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is purchasing the Beach Express toll bridge, owned by the Baldwin County Bridge Company (BCBC). The sale is expected to be completed sometime in May, and the toll will be removed after Memorial Day.

Governor Kay Ivey announced the purchase last week, saying $57 million would be paid for the bridge and $3 million would be paid to the city of Orange Beach for roadway improvements.

The sale ended a lawsuit filed by BCBC against ALDOT following the state’s plans to build a separate bridge nearby. The BCBC said putting a bridge that is free to cross close to the Beach Express would put the toll company out of business.

BCBC raised tolls last fall due to court costs and legal fees.

Ike Scott, the owner of Scott Bridge Company, which is building the new ALDOT bridge, has built many bridges across the Southeast. He said the Beach Express bridge would cost more than $57 million to construct today.

Scott said depending on the length of the bridge, the cost could be more or less than his estimate of around $85 million to $90 million.

“I think it actually was a good deal for both parties,” Scott said. “I think it was a good deal for the taxpayers. I'm pretty sure we couldn't go out there and build that bridge for that, even though it's shorter.”

Scott explained that when bridges are sold, the buyer and seller assess their current value. Since the Beach Express is still relatively new, considering its expected lifespan, Scott said it wouldn’t have much depreciated value.

“So, let's say it's 25 years old,” Scott explained. “Well, that really means it's only used up a third of its life. If you're buying something that's old, it’s just like the car as far as value changing.”

Ivey’s office said all parties agreed upon the sale. Scott said he believes the price is also fair to the BCBC.

BCBC President Neal Belitsky said the company has been honored to serve drivers in the area since 2000.

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