Orange Beach Mayor gives update on upcoming projects and pending negotiations during council meeting

By Melanie LeCroy
Posted 7/29/20

Orange Beach City Council meeting July 21 included a mini town hall meeting. Mayor Tony Kennon gave those in attendance and watching at home a rundown of upcoming projects, construction updates and …

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Orange Beach Mayor gives update on upcoming projects and pending negotiations during council meeting

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Orange Beach City Council meeting July 21 included a mini town hall meeting. Mayor Tony Kennon gave those in attendance and watching at home a rundown of upcoming projects, construction updates and information on pending negotiations.

According to Kennon, the city has been in negotiations with the newest owners of the Orange Beach toll bridge, DIF Capital Partners, for roughly nine months.

Kennon explained that the current negotiations include:

•expanding the toll fly through from the current five to 11

•two dedicated (one each direction) Freedom Pass lane for locals. Kennon said this could happen in the next 18 months per the agreement

•addition of a second bridge in three years creating two northbound lanes and two southbound

•the toll will be controlled with a percentage increase and but no increase in the first five years

•special toll pricing for Orange Beach residents

•electronic fly through technology added to speed Freedom Pass holders through

The city and DIF have been negotiating and have agreed to terms. Kennon said the state of Alabama and Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) need to approve the deal.

“The City of Orange Beach and the bridge company has agreed in term, in concept but it will be up to the state of Alabama and ALDOT to allow us to consummate the deal. Included in that deal is a short-term cash value and a long-term revenue stream for the city of Orange Beach,” Kennon said. “I’ve been assured by ALDOT that if for whatever reason we are not allowed to consummate that deal, they will build the bridge to the west. It will be a free bridge which we will support them on as the city of Gulf Shores support them as well.”

Golf Carts

Golf carts have been a hot button topic in Orange Beach for some time. In the spring the city had planned to check golf carts for required equipment and register them, but it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kennon said the program has moved to the fall. Street worthy golf carts are equipped with turn signals, headlights and brake lights.

State law requires the golf cart operator to hold a driver’s license. Kennon said, “It is imperative that we understand that children under 16 are not supposed to be on a golf cart without an adult and the adult should be driving. We are going to have to try our best and we have tried our best to enforce that but we need mom and dad to help us with that because it is getting to some degree out of control.”

Golf carts cannot travel on roads with a posted speed over 25 miles per hour. The city is working on engineering a multimodal path on Canal Road. The city is also looking to add a multiuse sidewalk from Oak Street to East Wharf Parkway with connection to the south side of the new Orange Beach Middle/High School campus.

Road and sidewalk improvements

Kennon also outlined several roadway and access improvements. They include:

•make East Canal Road three lanes with a roundabout in front of the library

•extension of Commercial Drive and the addition of a 5-foot pedestrian path

•addition of a 10-foot multimodal path on the north side of Canal Road between William Silvers traffic light and Wharf Parkway East. This will include a pedestrian crossing at the William Silvers traffic light, an elevated crossover is being studied

•deceleration lane is planned for right turns into Cypress Village and left turn movement into the new Orange Beach Middle/High School will be directed to Sweetwater Drive due to safety concerns with the school’s front entrance

•deceleration lane is planned going into The Commons near Cactus Cantina and widening the entrance to allow for better movement of vehicles

•adding a right turn lane on Lauder Lane to improve flow to Canal Road

Beachfront

Finally, the city of Orange Beach has been looking to acquire beachfront property for four years. After two years of negotiations, Kennon said they are close to a deal and hopes to finalize the deal and bring it to the council in the coming weeks.

“It currently has a building on it that will serve a dual purpose for us which will tremendously reduce the overall investment for beachfront use for our resident and at the same time accomplish two other things that we need. We have a deal, but we have not signed a contract. I expect to sign the contract this week and then we will bring it to council and reveal. It is hopefully going to happen,” Kennon said.

Kennon did not identify the location of the property during the meeting.

For more information on the upcoming projects, the video of the council meeting is available on the City of Orange Beach Facebook page.