FOLEY – Renaming a county road for a new business could be a creative way to deal with a major traffic problem at the intersection of Interstate 10 and the Baldwin Beach Express, county officials said Tuesday.
The Baldwin County Commission will vote Tuesday, Feb. 18, on renaming a short section of Baldwin County 68 “Buc-ee’s Boulevard.”
The idea is not to promote the large travel station at I-10 and the Beach Express, but to direct traffic that has been a problem at the exit since Buc-ee’s opened in early 2019, County Engineer Joey Nunnally told commissioners Tuesday.
“As y’all well know, we’ve been dealing with a lot of traffic issues since Buc-ee’s has been built,” Nunnally said at the commission work session. “Everybody trying to get into Buc-ee’s has caused backups on the Baldwin Beach Express, backups on the onramp, off ramp, all the way back up to the interstate.”
One solution would be to place signs on I-10 showing drivers which lane to use to get to the site. The problem is that the Federal Highway Administration, which regulates interstates, does not allow directional signs for private businesses.
The FHWA, does, however, allow signs for public roads.
Under the proposal, a short section of Baldwin County 68, the road at the entrance to the travel station, would be renamed “Buc-ee’s Boulevard.” The Alabama Department of Transportation would put signs on I-10 directing traffic to get in the far-right lane of the exit to reach the road.
“This is kind of a creative way of dealing with a safety issue, traffic issue, to get people in and out on the roads effectively and to not cause a safety issue,” Nunnally said.
Commission Chair Billie Jo Underwood said she could support renaming the road as long as it was for safety and traffic and not to promote a business.
“I don’t want to create the pretense that we’re trying to advertise for Buc-ee’s by renaming the road, but if you guys are stressing that it’s a safety issue and this is the way to combat that safety issue, then as long as the public understands that is what this is for,” she told Nunnally.
Commissioner Jeb Ball also asked Nunnally to prepare a report showing the extent of the traffic problem at the intersection. “We need to get some numbers drawn up to find out what the backup is, the time frame, how far the traffic’s backed up,” Ball said.
The state also plans to widen the exit from one lane to two. Commissioner Joe Davis said the exit lanes should be marked so that drivers know how to turn onto either the Beach Express or Buc-ee’s Boulevard.
“The key to me is to make sure something happens with the signage or you’re going to have people who thought they were in the correct lane as they make the turn, they’re going to be trying to move over to the right lane,” Davis said.