Conceptual design for Wolf Bay bridge in Orange Beach, Alabama.By John Mullen

April 15, 2019 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – State officials say about half of the work moving utilities to make way for a fifth lane on Canal Road is completed and they are hoping to let the project out for bidding soon.

“We’re plugging along with the utility relocation out there on Canal,” Assistant Southwest Region Engineer Brian Aaron said. “I’d say we’re roughly 50 percent complete on that so we’re going to continue to work through that over the next few months.”

Aaron said the Alabama Department of Transportation expects to have a bid letting on the widening project ready by June and looks to start construction as soon as the busy summer season subsides. He estimates it will take a year to complete the project.

“That’s kind of by design because we really didn’t want to hop out there in the busy summer season,” Aaron said. “What we anticipate is we would start construction basically right after summer.”

At first relocating power poles along the route was thought to be a big problem – and expense - but Aaron says the widening project will work around those.

“Most of the electricity is actually staying,” Aaron said. “There’s only a couple of large transmission poles that have to be moved out of the way. Each one of those poles are like $200,000 apiece to move. It was going to be $20 million to move all those poles. We actually went and got a design waiver so the poles are staying except for just a few of them.”

Most of the utility relocation that is occurring is gas or fiber. The relocation of sewer and waterlines will be part of the road construction project, Aaron said.

A major change in the plans was caused by the coming reality of a Wolf Bay Bridge which will connect on the north side of the Canal Road and Alabama 161 intersection. How that intersection will be designed and developed is a separate project from the simple adding of a fifth lane.

“There’s two projects down there and two phases and phase one is the actual five lane,” Aaron said. “Phase two is improvement to that intersection.”

It the intersection was first designed with the impression the Wolf Bay Bridge would still be a dream Orange Beach residents and officials have been pursuing for decades.

“When we looked at that about three years ago Wolf Bay Bridge was on again, off again,” Aaron said. “We just had to kind of make a decision based on the fact that Wolf Bay wasn’t moving forward.”