ORANGE BEACH — The City of Orange Beach earns 30 cents per car that travels across the Intercoastal Waterway via the Beach Express toll bridge. The fact that the City gets money from the toll has been a talking point for those supporting a new taxpayer-paid bridge nearby.
Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft previously pointed out to 1819 News that Orange Beach earns a portion of the tolls. He said he believed Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon was concerned about the new bridge because it would “be a financial hit to them.”
Kennon has denied that money was his motivation behind pushing back against the new bridge. He says he doesn’t support the $120 million project because it will not decrease traffic getting to and from the beach. Furthermore, he has told news outlets multiple times that the toll bridge revenue only makes up less than 2% of the city’s total budget every year.
“If that 30 cents matters more to us in our budget than moving around tourists, then I am a terrible businessman, and they need to get rid of me,” Kennon told 1819 News.
Over the past couple of years, the City’s total budget was around $80 million. Most of the revenue for the City comes from lodging, retail and property taxes.
In 2022, Orange Beach received $1,676,853 from the Baldwin County Bridge Company (BCBC). In 2021, the total from the toll was $1,634,069.
Since 2004, the city has received a total of $18,559,641. However, $12 million of that was payback from a loan the city gave the bridge company after it first opened. Therefore, the city has made a grand total of $6,559,641 from the bridge.
With a recent increase in toll rates due to a legal battle between BCBC and Alabama Department of Transportation director John Cooper, Kennon said the amount the City will get will not change.
“It just really frustrates me that there is so much misinformation out there,” Kennon said. “And the bridge had to go up on the toll, and I understand, if I had an expiration date on my bridge, I would go up, too. But it’s only for people coming from out of town, and tourists could care less if they have to pay a $5 toll. They pay far more than that to go to Disney World or to Destin.”
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email email@example.com.
Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.