Lafayette, LA (KPEL News) - In south Louisiana, the word vacation is synonymous with the beach. More specifically, Lafayette folks will travel east to enjoy some sun and sand along along the Alabama or Florida coast. This Crowley girl loves to smell the salt water and wade in the clear water that we a few hours west don't have closer to home.

orange beach
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Packing and the drive are the small flies in the proverbial ointment. Now, the most direct route to Orange Beach, one of the most popular destinations for Louisiana families, will be cheaper. Traveling from Lafayette to OBA, as it's affectionately known, takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes, if you take the Foley Beach Express and go through the toll both. It will also set you back $5 each way. Avoiding it adds about 10 minutes to your trip and takes $10 out of your pocket that could be spent at the local establishments.

Sorry. There's nothing you can do about the packing.

Ring the bells, Louisiana, because the money will stay in your pocket to be better spent during your hard-earned, much-needed beach vacation.

Foley Beach Express toll booth
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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced in April that the state has entered into an agreement with Orange Beach and the Baldwin County Bridge Company (which owns the Beach Express Bridge) to purchase the structure. What's more, the travel across will be toll free.

The longer term plans involve a new bridge that will modify traffic flow in the area so that you can get from Lafayette to Orange Beach faster and, hopefully, with less traffic during those busy summer months. And free is cheaper!

The Intracoastal Waterway Bridge is under construction and is expected to be complete in mid-2026. Once it's built, the Beach Express bridge will provide travel for northbound traffic, with the Intracoastal bridge reserved for southbound travel. Until then, the Foley Beach Express bridge will allow travel in both directions.

Foley Beach Express toll
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The Alabama Department of Transportation or ALDOT will purchase the Beach Express bridge for $57-million and pay the city of Orange Beach $3-million for road improvements. As Governor Ivey said in the release:

Alabama’s Gulf Coast continues to experience record growth and success, and I am proud we are making needed infrastructure improvements in the area that will help alleviate traffic congestion for Alabamians and those visiting our beaches.

orange beach condos
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The Orange Beach City Council will vote on whether to approve the proposed agreement at its meeting on May 7th. If they give it the nod (which is expected), tolls will cease just prior to Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer in Louisiana and Alabama.

If you are a frequent Beach Express flier and have an Alabama Freedom Pass to use so you can zoom through the toll booths, Baldwin County Bridge Company will refund any remaining money to the credit card on file or send you an email with instructions. Those transactions should be complete by the end of June.

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