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Complaint filed against ALDOT by toll bridge owner over proposed new Beach Express bridge

WPMI

A State funded multi-million dollar bridge proposal in Baldwin County is under fire by the owner and developer of the Foley Beach Express Toll Bridge.

According to a complaint filed by the Baldwin County Beach Company, which is owned by American Roads LLC, the Alabama Department of Transportation intends to build a new bridge connecting the beach express to Canal Road in Orange Beach.

It currently costs $2.75 per vehicle for most to use the toll bridge and about half that for Orange Beach residents.

Thousands of vehicles pass over the Beach Express Toll Bridge every year on their way in and out of Orange Beach.

For many Orange Beach residents, it's a fixture they've grown accustomed to but paying the fee still takes its toll.

Matt Wilson, long-time Orange Beach resident, says he's in favor of a proposal by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

"We looked when we were doing our taxes last year and it was thousands of dollars that we spent using that bridge," said Wilson.

ALDOT's proposal is to build a new bridge that would extend off the Baldwin Beach Express and connect to Canal Road and allow drivers to bypass the toll altogether.

"Some people are a little frustrated with spending that amount of money year after year. If another bridge comes in and its free, I'm sure a lot of locals will use that bridge predominately," Wilson said.

However, the owner of the Foley Beach Express Toll Bridge said that ALDOT is in the wrong and the $30 plus million dollar project is being proposed vindictively.

According to the complaint, filed today by the Baldwin County Beach Company, ALDOT intends to claim imminent domain on land owned by the company to build the bridge.

BCBC claims ALDOT would also have to connect the roadways, which could cost millions more.

BCBC claims the decision was made after negotiations broke down regarding ALDOT's request for the bridge to be expanded for better traffic flow.

According to BCBC, those negotiations fell apart when ALDOT requested the bridge be given to the city of Orange Beach at no cost.

In the complaint, BCBC cites what ALDOT Director John Cooper called a "bad deal".

BCBC also claims ALDOT has no need to spend taxpayer funds for an additional bridge.

Wilson believes in addition to making it more affordable, another bridge would do a lot of good.

"I think it would be great to give people another access route onto the island so there wouldn't be such a bottleneck jam up coming over the bridge at the Wharf," said Wilson.

The complaint was filed late in the day and no one was available from ALDOT to comment.

However, State officials told NBC 15 they plan to review the complaint and intend to release a statement on Tuesday.

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