Jeb Smith says he believes Powerline Road we be improvement of an existing road not building a new one.

By John Mullen

October 21, 2019 – Orange Beach, AL – (OBA®) – Local Realtor Jeb Smith was looking for a way to contribute to the community. After attending city council meetings for the past few years decided to take on what many in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores consider a “20-year fix” to traffic problems on the island.

“Just took it upon myself to find where I could help out the best way that I could just as a regular citizen,” Smith said. “That was one of the main things that as far as relieving traffic pressure we needed another north-south corridor in Orange Beach. That was the only logical thing to do.”

Smith started a local petition asking citizens to back the building of Powerline Road from Canal Road to the beach road near the Phoenix West II condo tower. It was the first road built to the beach in Orange Beach but has since become a right of way for PowerSouth transmission lines. At one point there was even a bridge over a stream where a boardwalk trail is today. The City of Orange Beach owns about a quarter mile of the road on the northern end.

The petition will eventually be presented to Gov. Kay Ivey and as of Oct. 18 had 133 signatures online. Smith has also been gathering signatures at public events like the Oct. 1 town hall meeting. He started the effort on Sept. 10.

“It is crucial to the infrastructure that we get ahead of the curve on more people moving to and visiting our island,” the petition states. “Please join this as a first line of offense to get the ball rolling for action to be taken in this matter. It is up to the citizens to show initiative to get the governing bodies to respond.” Click here to see and sign the petition.

Up ahead, however, is likely a prolonged and costly legal battle for the road to move forward, Mayor Tony Kennon says. In an effort to settle a lawsuit against the building of the Gulf State Park Lodge and Convention Center, the state agreed to a deal with an environmental group that no new roads could be built in Gulf State Park for 20 years.

It is Smith’s and many local officials’ contention that the roadway already exists and rather than a new road it would be the improvement of an existing one.

“It’s already there so why not just improve it,” Smith said. “The engineering from drawings and renditions from the city and presented to the state is an elevated surface or a bridge through the park. So even if it was improved, we wouldn’t be on the ground level.”

Bringing the state around to that same way of thinking has been a tough sell, Kennon said.

“We continue to bang the gong that Powerline Road is already a road,” Kennon said. “It was the original road to the beach and it was called Romar Road. So, we are not building a new road. It is an existing road. The environmentalists have really hounded us on building that road.”

Kennon appreciates the new effort but is cautiously optimistic.

“We all know that that roadway would probably take 40 to 50 percent of the traffic off of Canal Road,” Kennon said. “It would be an absolute blessing. Unfortunately, Montgomery has signed a contract to allow the construction of the lodge to go forward that would prevent any new roads to be built in the state park for 20 years.”