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Baldwin Beach Express II project gaining steam

(image: WPMI) Baldwin Beach Express expansion
(image: WPMI) Baldwin Beach Express expansion

New information on the progress of extending the Baldwin Beach Express North to Interstate 65.

County engineers will be asking for a million dollars just to get things started.

The demand and the desire to extend the expressway just East of Bay Minette, alongside the Megasite and all the way to I-65 is gaining steam.

"Got to get people out of here for the hurricane, the population is growing. I certainly don’t want to get stuck on some two lane country road trying to get out of here me or my family so evacuation is very important," said Richard McGill who lives in Baldwin County.

New today, the county has chosen the most direct route surrounded by timberland following what's now a dirt road called Old Brady Road, also new is the request to spend $1 million to start the process of right away acquisition.

County Engineer Joey Nunnally says it’s just a drop in the bucket and the plan is to seek BP money through the Restore Council.

"The estimated cost we have right now to purchase this right of way through those Restore funds is about $11.4 million ," said Nunnally.

Also on the table, newly elected Senator Chris Elliot plans to introduce legislation asking for a constitutional amendment to create a "Baldwin County Toll Authority." Four years ago voters said no, but this time Elliot says the amendment will apply to "new roads only."

"What the legislation I’m proposing does is it makes it very clear that the toll authority is only able to place tolls on new roads and really even more specifically on the Baldwin Beach Express North. That is the purpose of the amendments that is the purpose of the toll authority," said Elliot.

Drivers and locals say tourists headed to the beach and "tourist dollar' would be paying for the new road. The sooner the better.

"You remember how quickly they built this beach express it was almost overnight to me and hopefully this will be the same," said Bob Cotton.

"They do the same stuff out west like in big bend Texas they put in new routes into big bend national park," said King Smith.

The entire project will cost close to $200 million. BP - Restore Council money will pay for some of it -- but not all. NBC 15 News will keep you updated.