ORANGE BEACH — A tri-party agreement between the Baldwin County Bridge Company (BCBC) and the entities of the Baldwin County Commission, the City of Orange Beach and the City of Foley has officially been terminated.

The Beach Express toll bridge is being sold to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and will become toll-free for drivers sometime in May. The cities and the county will no longer be responsible for maintenance in the area.

The Foley City Council voted to withdraw from the agreement Monday night during its regular meeting. Mayor Ralph Hellmich said he was pleased with the transition and confirmed that all ongoing projects would be unaffected.

"They're happy and we're happy," Hellmich told 1819 News. "Everybody's in agreement. So, we signed off on the agreements that will transfer our portion."

The Baldwin County Commission and the City of Orange Beach approved removal from the agreement on Tuesday.

The City of Orange Beach will no longer receive revenue from the toll, which makes up about 1.5% of the city's annual budget. Following the council meeting, Mayor Tony Kennon told 1819 News that it meant $50 million.

"But it's money well spent to see the toll go away because I think we are going to gain that back in additional revenues, through taxes and visitors and etc, etc.," said Kennon. "It's good for our businesses and for our residents. So, it was something that's been a long time coming but I'm really pleased that it happened."

Orange Beach will receive $3 million to improve Highway 161 to help with traffic flow.

Kennon did not appear as positive about a plan by ALDOT to eventually make the Beach Express bridge northbound only.

"I think at this time, there is a lot to be finalized as far as routing in and out the bridges and how it's going to work," Kennon said in the meeting. "I will continue to work with the state to see if there is a better plan that will work for everyone."

Governor Kay Ivey previously announced that ALDOT planned to complete the construction of a new bridge nearby and make the new bridge the southbound-only bridge.

Some Orange Beach City council members expressed concerns about possible traffic issues with that plan. Kennon told 1819 News that he preferred to keep the bridges going both ways. After years of disagreement with Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft, Kennon said the two may be able to agree upon this issue.

"We know our traffic and our traffic patterns more than anybody else," he said. We also know our needs and our residents' needs better than anyone else. So, hopefully, they'll seek wise counsel."

"... I think I think Robert Craft and I both want it to work and we both want it to flow," Craft added. "They have needs, we have needs, but I think we've talked and I think we can find a compromise and find a way for everybody to be happy because a win is not a win if it's at somebody else's expense."

However, Hellmich said he does not believe Foley traffic will be impacted.

"That will all be south of County Road 8," said Hellmich. "That's where the traffic circle will be and then the road will split. Now, that is only when the new bridge is built, then there will be  two lanes that are southbound over the new bridge."

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