BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) The Baldwin Beach Express starts at I-10 and goes all the way to the beaches of Baldwin County. But, the dream has always been to extend it to I-65 opening up economic opportunities and another hurricane evacuation route.
“We’ve been talking about this extension well over six years,” says state senator Chris Elliott.
Voters in Baldwin County will be asked November third to vote “Yes” for Amendment 2.
“Tolling is the way to have this happen now,” says Patrick Bussey vice-chairman of GUMBO. “There is no public money available for it.”
If passed, Amendment 2 would establish a toll authority that will decide the amount of a toll, build and maintain the 24 and a half mile extension. “This is only paid for by users of this road and primarily that’s tourists,” says Bussey.
“Toll” has become a four-letter word in Baldwin County. “I don’t believe we should have to pay any more to live in Baldwin County,” says Lori Turner. But supporters, called the Choose2Coalition, say this is nothing like last years I-10 Mobile River Bridge project. “This is night and day difference,” says Elliott. “This is very, very limited. This is very constrained. For one particular new construction only and absolutely leaving every other existing roadway without any tolls.”
The project is “shovel ready”, all of the design work, permits and studies have been finished. Without a toll or some other funding mechanism, the Baldwin Beach Express will never go any further north than I-10.