FOLEY — Construction will soon begin on a pedestrian bridge over Ala. 59 in downtown Foley.
During their meeting last Monday, the Foley City Council approved a bid of $1,515,478 from the Morette Company of Pensacola for the construction of the bridge over Ala. 59 near the intersection with West Jessamine Street.
Construction on the new pedestrian bridge is expected to begin within the next few weeks, once Morette receives the proper bonds as well as permission to proceed from the city.
Money for the bridge comes from a $4.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, TIGER, grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2013, along with a 25 percent match — roughly $1.6 million — from the city.
That total amount — $6.3 million — is being put toward a citywide project called the Foley Transportation Regional Infrastructure Pedestrian System, or Foley TRIPS — aimed at making the city safer and more appealing to pedestrians and bicyclists.
Work has already begun on installing sidewalks, bike paths and multi-use pedestrian paths throughout the city, and more paths could be added in the near future with the council’s approval.
Once construction on the pedestrian bridge begins, the contract with the city stipulates it must be completed within 180 calendar days.
City Engineer Chad Christian said the pedestrian bridge is the highlight of the citywide project.
“This really is the culmination of the TIGER grant,” Christian said. “The sidewalks and bike paths and shared-use paths are important that they will be used, but this is something that is iconic. Anytime you come through Foley you are going to go under this bridge.”
Christian said the pedestrian bridge would blend with another newly constructed landmark.
“This will tie together with the new clock tower and everything that’s been done in Centennial Plaza,” he said.
While the bridge’s western landing will be placed on a vacant lot recently purchased by the city near the intersection, the eastern end will fall near the existing fountain.
Christian upon its completion, the new tower will be not only a landmark in the community, but it will also help pedestrians access businesses on both sides of the busy highway.
“Tourism is one of the big economic engines of South Baldwin County, so transportation is very important, and this project allows us to connect our downtown that has been divided by a state highway,” Christian said. “People will be able to cross the highway whenever they want without having to wait on the traffic lights.”
At the time Foley was awarded the TIGER money in 2013, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the highly competitive program offers one of the only federal funding possibilities for large, multi-modal projects that often are not suitable for other federal funding sources.