GULF SHORES — While a lawsuit challenging the project is still in court, work has started to clear property to begin work on a new bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores.Tony …
GULF SHORES — While a lawsuit challenging the project is still in court, work has started to clear property to begin work on a new bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores.
Tony Harris, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation, said the clearing is in preparation for the start of construction.
"Our contractor, Scott Bridge, is doing his clearing," Harris said. "His preparation was to have access down to the shoreline to get started with construction. That's part of his scope of his work, and he is working."
Scott Bridge Company of Opelika was the low bidder on the project with a submission of $51.56 million when proposals were opened Sept. 30. The budgeted price of the bridge was $48 million to $60 million, according to ALDOT reports.
In October, the Baldwin County Bridge Company, which operates the toll bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in Orange Beach, filed a lawsuit against ALDOT in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The complaint requested an injunction halting construction of the new bridge and to award the company an unspecified amount of money in damages.
Harris said court depositions are taking place and a hearing is scheduled on the lawsuit in February, but work is continuing to complete the project on schedule.
"It's got a set completion date," Harris said. "A lot of a lot of our projects have a number of working days. This one has an actual calendar date deadline."
The project is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 1, 2026, according to earlier reports.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said he does not feel a new bridge is needed. He said in earlier interviews that that proposals by the Baldwin County Bridge Company to eliminate tolls for Baldwin residents and add more lanes and toll booths to the bridge in Orange Beach would be a better solution to traffic problems than the ALDOT plan to build a new two-lane bridge to the west.
"I made my feelings clear," Kennon said Friday, Jan. 27. "My position is well-documented, and I just still can't find anybody that will look at this project and tell me how it makes sense. No one would talk about it publicly, you know that. Something stinks.
"I'd give anything. It's almost like I'm on a quest to find the one person that can show me how it makes sense and I find that person. It's like I'm looking for the Holy Grail."
In addition to the toll bridge in Orange Beach, the Dr. W.C. Holmes Bridge carries Alabama 59 traffic across the waterway in Gulf Shores. The non-toll bridge carries more than 10 million vehicles a year, according to Gulf Shores traffic reports.
The new bridge would be built between the two existing structures. Gulf Shores is extending Waterway East Boulevard north of the Intracoastal to link with the planned road to the proposed bridge.
Another bridge on Alabama 182 crosses Perdido Pass in Orange Beach near the Florida state line.