Auburn, Baldwin Co. Agree on New Road

Wed July 19, 2006 - Southeast Edition

FAIRHOPE, AL (AP) A 16-mi. (26 km) highway linking Interstate 10 to U.S. 98 near Magnolia Springs can be built now that Baldwin County and Auburn University (AU) have agreed on rights of way.

Auburn trustees unanimously approved an agreement that allows the county to build a two-lane highway on property occupied by the university’s Gulf Coast Research Center, AU Spokesman David Granger said.

The center straddles Alabama 104 on Fairhope’s eastern side.

The new Baldwin County 13 would parallel most of U.S. 98 and Alabama 181 and ease traffic congestion, officials said.

The agreement, written by Auburn environmental consultants with input from the county, includes strict environmental provisions that could add $450,000 to the county’s construction costs.

It also gives AU authority to direct construction of the section of road that crosses approximately 1 mi. of the university’s property, and dictate future changes.

“I guess the bottom line is we have done our homework, got everyone to agree, and although we aren’t enthusiastic about the contract and its expensive requirements, it is done,” Baldwin County Commissioner Ed Bishop said.

The county will buy approximately 14 acres of right of way for $522,934. The county also would also have to follow 46 provisions that apply to the approximately 1 mi. of highway that would cut through Auburn’s property.

The provisions range from limiting the speed limit to 35 mph and not allowing herbicides or pesticides to be used on the property, to requiring that any lawsuit related to the agreement be heard in Lee County circuit court.