State to buy Orange Beach toll bridge

Tolls on beach-bound bridge to be dropped immediately on closing of sale

A view of the toll booth and bridge. Photo by Erica West.

The state of Alabama has announced plans to purchase a toll bridge connecting the Foley Beach Express to the beach in Orange Beach.

Tolls will be discontinued as soon as the sale is finalized — probably in May, state and city officials added.

“When the transaction is finalized, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will operate the Beach Express Bridge toll-free, initially carrying southbound and northbound traffic,” Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced Thursday.

“ALDOT’s construction of the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge will continue, with completion expected in Spring or early Summer 2026. Upon completion, the Beach Express Bridge will be converted to carry northbound traffic and the new ALDOT bridge will carry southbound traffic — creating “one-way pairs,” parallel paired bridges to move traffic more efficiently to and from Alabama’s beaches.”

ALDOT will pay $57 million to the Baldwin County Bridge Co. plus $3 million to the city of Orange Beach to cover local road improvements.

- Sponsor -

The bridge is the brainchild of one-time gubernatorial candidate Tim James, a Greenville businessman who teamed with his brother and another business partner to develop the bridge in the opening years of the 21st century.

Serious planning started in 2004, when a long wait in beach-bound traffic encouraged the three to move ahead. They developed their plan “over a cup of gumbo and a beer,” James told Business Alabama in 2012.

They built the bridge with private funds and linked to the federally-funded Foley Beach Express.

Though the project kicked off in a time when lending was tight, James said, “We pulled this together and built it in 13 months from start to finish.” James and his team sold the bridge in 2006 for $70 million.

The bridge has changed hands several times since then, according to federal highway records.

The latest Alabama business news delivered to your inbox