New Foley Roads

By John Mullen

August 2, 2019 – Orange Beach, AL – (OBA®) – While two roadway projects in Foley are pretty much done deals, the city and Baldwin County also have an eye on the future as officials announced efforts to get grants to jump start at least two road projects.

The east-west Fern Avenue extension is nearing completion with a two-mile addition to connect Alabama 59 to the Foley Beach Express. The city recently announced a southern Juniper Street extension that would eventually turn west and connect with Alabama 59 at County Road 20 South with an eye on starting construction in 2020.

That same County Road 20 South intersection on Alabama 59 will be the target of another extension on the west side of the highway to a connection on County Road 65. Earlier in July the Foley City Council passed two resolutions of support for two Baldwin County projects the other one being an eastward extension of County Road 10 and a southward extension of James Road from County Road 20 East across the County Road 10 extension down to County Road 8 in Gulf Shores.

“Those are projects that are probably out into the future,” Foley City Administrator Mike Thompson said. “One thing that the City of Foley is doing, and I think Gulf Shores is doing the same thing, we’re at a point in time where we’re updating our long-term roadway projection. Obviously, these two they are in the county, they are right on our edge and really, they would be a big plus not just for county citizens but for Foley citizens. We recognize those two in our 10-year roadway plan as something we’d like to see move forward during that time.”

The County Road 10 project would have to involve Gulf Shores, Thompson said, because of a long-ago ruling about the boundary between the two cities.

“County Road 10 is a line that was set by a judge a number of years ago as a demarcation line of how far south Foley can grow and how far north Gulf Shores can grow and it goes from 59 over to the east to Wolf Bay,” Thompson said.

That’s where the county comes in and why all three governments would have to be in on the project.

“If it were to happen, its kind of in no man’s land because either city would never be able to annex both sides of the road and therefore take control of the road,” Thompson said. “If it happens it’ll be a county road. What we’re trying to do is work with Gulf Shores and the county to see whether or not the three of us would partner in developing that County Road 10 corridor for a road connection between 59 and the Foley Beach Express.”

Thompson sees Foley’s role as providing support through matching funds as the county looks for grants to fund the projects.

“We would support the county by sharing a portion of the grant match,” Thompson said. “Since it’s not in the City of Foley and not in the City of Gulf Shores it would have to be an application by the county. We’ve just voiced our interest in partnering with them if they were to go after a grant.”

James Road extending all the way down to Gulf Shores is also a big part of this project providing an alternative to Alabama 59 and the Foley Beach Express in that part of the county. James Road starts south of County Road 20 East on the west side of the Forge pizza restaurant shopping center.

“The idea is to create some additional north-south corridors between Foley and Gulf Shores that our citizens would be able to take advantage of,” Thompson said. “If we could get a project going with the county and Gulf Shores, we would do County Road 10 from 59 to the Foley Beach Express and then extend James Road where it doesn’t exist today down to County Road 8. I think ultimately Gulf Shores would like to see it go down to County Road 6 but I’m not sure if that would be included in a joint project or not.”

Gulf Shores City Administrator Steve Griffin said his city would see plenty of benefits from this project.

“Currently, residents that want to travel between Foley and Gulf Shores rely on Highway 59 or the Foley Beach Express,” Griffin said. “If constructed, the James Road extension coupled with the (County Road 8) connector road to County Road 6 East would shift the local traffic away from the arterial roads and help relieve traffic congestion.”

Partnerships to accomplish this, Griffin said, will be vital to the success of the project.

“In order to address both current and future traffic demands, the city will continue to work with other agencies such as Foley, ALDOT and Baldwin County to construct additional roadway networks to provide relief to traffic congestion and protect the quality of life for our residents and visitors,” Griffin said.

The County Road 20 south extension west to County Road 65 would create yet another connection for residents to a north-south roadway that is not Alabama 59 or the Foley Beach Express, this one on the west side of Foley.

“That’s another one where the city has not annexed both sides of that corridor but it’s something that the county commission is interested in seeing happen,” Griffin said. “Obviously, it would be a benefit to the City of Foley and our citizens. It would give them another corridor to go over to 65 and then use 65 to go north and south.”

On the Juniper Street extension, also from County Road 20 East, that project is in the stage of getting right-of-way access and Mayor John Koniar said that process is nearly complete.

‘In theory all the right of way will be donated because we’re increasing the land values for the property owners there,” Koniar said. “They see the value there.”

There is $2 million budgeted for the project and it will be included in the next two fiscal year budgets until all the rights of way are acquired and construction can be started. No completion date has been set.