City will widen Coastal Gateway Blvd. (County Rd. 8)
By John Mullen
Gulf Shores is making plans to move forward with a widening of the former County Road 8, taken over and renamed by the city as Coastal Gateway Boulevard.
It was just one of several ambitious projects city officials said they will be working on soon including the final phase of the Gulf Place Project on city Gulf front between the Phoenix All-Suites Hotel on the west and Regatta condos on the East. Another project will extend Commercial Drive in the Business and Aviation Park near the airport to service a new building to be built by Resicum Iternational, an aerospace company.
“We’ve been working on a project to widen Coastal Gateway (pictured below) to a four-lane road with a divided median, closed drainage system, curb and gutter, bike lanes, sidewalks,” Public Works Director Mark Acreman said.
The city is looking to pay Hosea Weaver and Sons out of Mobile about $9.2 million for the refurbished road. This does not include another $3.5 million for inspections and testing on the new roadway.
Mayor Robert Craft said it will provide an alternative route for those traveling to Gulf Shores. There are also already several subdivisions along the road and more are being planned.
“This will be our direct access to Gulf Shores with signage for people coming from the Foley Beach Express trying to get to Gulf Shores,” Craft said. “That’s the reason for the size and design of the road. Not only for the residential growth but also for using that as an entry to Gulf Shores from the beach express.”
It will take about 18 months to finish the project, Acreman said, and it will start with moving utilities and improving them in the process.
“The good news is because of the rapid growth that we are seeing on Coastal Gateway Boulevard a lot of these utilities will be upgraded during this process,” Acreman said. “Baldwin EMC is going to upgrade their capacity because of the demands that are being placed, not only now but in the near future as some of these properties develop as well as Gulf Shores Utilities water and sewer capacities in these areas.”
At either end of the new roadway both the intersection at State Route 59 and the Foley Beach Express will be upgraded as well.
“When we are completed we will have improved both the intersections at Highway 59 and the Foley Beach Express,” Acreman said. “At Highway 59 we are adding a northbound right turn lane, we’re adding a northbound right turn lane to the west off of Highway 59 and we’ll have dual left turns going south.”
On the Foley Beach Express, the city is looking to have a traffic signal and is seeking support from the City of Foley, Baldwin County and the Baldwin County Bridge Company.
“We have to get three groups to support because it is part of the beach express connection,” Acreman said. “We’ve had a positive response from all three entities.”
Included in this project is a quarter mile spur to the south about halfway between State Route 59 and the beach express. It will be a two-lane road with sidewalks and bike paths and the city hopes to extend it all the way to Oak Road East or County Road 6.
“Initially we are only focusing in on this first 40 acres but our goal is to continue that road in the near future all the way to Oak Road East and have another opportunity for people to use a two-lane highway and avoid having to cut through a residential neighborhood,”
Gulf Place Project
This lot is undeveloped Gulf front the city will improve with amenities similar to the new Gulf Place in the area of the Hangout.
“This is a significant change in our world,” Mayor Robert Craft said. “The good news about this is we’ve been focused for a long time on our middle third of our half mile. We have now spread this out to where the full half mile of property that we own is available to the public with access points, fire substation, public safety building and police substation. We’ll have folks housed there to help us manage it and react if anything happens.”
Other amenities will include more parking, a restroom building, improved pedestrian access points, shade structures, a 20-foot wide boardwalk and an improved walkover.
The city added a public safety building at the west end of Gulf Place in phase one of the project and will add a police substation at the east end with this final phase.
“We’ll have folks housed there to help us manage it and react if anything happens,” Craft said.
Cunningham Delaney had the lowest conforming bid at just more than $2.5 million and is scheduled to start work on Oct. 29. Environmental/Grants Coordinator Dan Bond said. Work is expected to completed by April 30.
Extending Commerce Dr.
The council authorized the mayor to sign a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation industrial access grant worth almost $360,000 for the extension of Commerce Drive.
Resicum International, an aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul company, is relocating its headquarters from Pensacola to a new 21,000-square-foot building on the extended portion. This grant will pay for roadway and drainage constructions costs as well as construction, engineering and inspection but does exclude design and utility expenses. The council also approved $70,000 to Barge Design solutions to complete the necessary survey, geotechnical and design services for this project.
Economic Development Coordinator Blake Phelps said Barge will also complete the design for the entire loop of Commerce Drive near the state’s Mariculture Center.
“We are not proposing at this time to fund that at this time but while we had crews out there it made a lot of sense to complete the design on the loop,” Phelps said. “It’s basically $18,000 more to get them to complete design of that loop.”
In other business:
• The council continued the alcohol ban on the beach during spring break for the fourth year. Dates for the ban are March 2 through April 28. The first ban came midway through the 2016 spring break season when unruly crowds gathered daily on the beach in Gulf Shores. The ban was enacted in a specially called meeting and has been reinstated each year since.
• The council agreed to OK a lease agreement with Gulf Shores Power Sports on a half-acre at Jack Edwards National Airport. Owners Morgan and Blakely Kitchens want to build an 8,100 square foot hangar and lease it for 40 years. Monthly rental would be about $5,400 and go up yearly based on the consumer price Index or by 3 percent. The hangar will be used for the storage, maintenance and repair of aircraft owned by the Kitchens.
• The council agreed to a memorandum of understanding with Baldwin County for a school resource officer at the elementary, middle and high schools in Gulf Shores. The Baldwin County Board of Education will provide $50,000 for each officer to help offset the cost.
• The council agreed to pay Skipper Consulting $93,000 to develop a Master Street Plan that will prioritize upcoming transportation improvements and develop additional strategies to address future traffic growth.
• The council agreed to reappoint Morgan Szapiel, Bobbie Rooker, Susan Brush to the Library Advisory Board and Councilman Jason Dyken to the Library Board.
• The council OK’d a special event liquor license for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Fly-In on Oct. 26-27 at Jack Edwards National Airport.