Expanded boardwalk, more landscaping at Perdido Pass Seawall Park
More route and traffic impact studies planned for new Wolf Bay Bridge
By John Mullen
Orange Beach is making plans to expand the boardwalk and landscaping at Seawall Park underneath the Perdido Pass Bridge.
“That is for phase three for the park part is extending the boardwalk, installing the landscaping and benches at that final area over by the helipad,” Coastal Resources Director Phillip West said. “It will cost anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000.”
Phillip West, Director of Coastal Resources for the city of Orange Beach, Alabama.But even bigger plans for the seawall itself are also planned thanks to money from the Restore Act. Paying for the design of the extension of the park was discussed during an April 2 city council work session. The council also discussed some change orders in the preliminary work being done on the Wolf Bay Bridge project.
The Perdido Pass seawall and fishing area fall under the responsibility of the Alabama Department of Transportation but that agency said it didn’t have the funds to repair and maintain it. It was closed in 2012 because it was comprised and declared unsafe.
“The wall itself is pretty severely impacted with corrosion and there are some pretty large holes just below the waterline all up and down the wall,” West said.
“The reason it was closed for so long was a lot of the backfill behind the wall would escape through those holes especially when you had big storms and a lot of pressure. It’d force water in there kind of like a garden hose into a bank and it will just wash out.
“That would create voids in the parking lot and the asphalt would just be literally hanging over that void and would crack and collapse. That’s why it looked so heaved and wavy.”
Tired of the unsightly fence and closure of one of the city’s prized amenities, city officials began looking for ways to get the park back open so fishermen and sightseers could enjoy one of the most unique places in Alabama.
“There’s only one place like Alabama Point, and its right there,” West said in 2016. “It’s one of the prettiest inlets on the Gulf Coast and it really is a shame it looks the way it looks.”
With the state’s permission, Orange Beach made improvements in the area by shoring up the worst spots, adding landscaping that included palm trees, added a boardwalk and benches.
The new work will complete the boardwalk from The Gulf restaurant all the way under the bridge where the Marine Police helipad is.
West said the design phase of the extension should be done in a few months and he hopes within about six months it will be complete.
“We did some patching to get the park open and kind of eliminate the eyesore with pile supporting,” he said. “The boardwalk, in a sense if kind of pile-supported/suspended. Now it’s time to go back with a robust repair so we can backfill and treat it like a functional seawall again.
“It’s a pretty functional patch but it definitely needs a bona fide repair to have a long-term lifespan.”
West hopes that process can begin later this year when money finally starts flowing from the Restore Act, hopefully before the summer’s end.
“When the grants are funded and awarded then we will start the process of selecting a design engineer and they will spend a couple of months working on designs and permitting with ALDOT, the Department of Conservation and the Corps of Engineers,” West said. “That will be a two- or three-month process with the permitting side of that.
“Then it would go out for bid for 30 days and then construction which would probably be about three months. We’re looking at another year to have it done, maybe a little longer. It’s a Restore grant for $2.2 million to fix the wall itself. It’s in the state expenditure plan.”
Wolf Bay Bridge Update
A slight change in plans on the project has prompted the need for more studies on the route and traffic impacts, Director of Community Development Kit Alexander said. The city will pay Burk-Kleinpeter about $104,000 for the work.
“We are changing the alignment of the roadway on the north end of the project and we have to do additional environmental studies in that area,” Alexander said. “We didn’t anticipate an air quality and noise impact analysis that needs to occur so we have to add that.”
She said the city would also like to take an extra look at how the new span will interact and flow with traffic at the intersection of Canal Road and Alabama 161 one of the two or three main intersections in the city.
“We are working on the intersection to address the alignment,” Alexander said. “We don’t know what changes will occur, if any, at this time.”
Meanwhile, work continues out in the water on geotechnical exploration on the bay floor and below to determine how deep the pylons will need to be.
• Awarded a bid to Highland Wake Construction for $1.2 million for construction of a new gymnasium at the recreation complex at Canal Road and Wilson Boulevard.
• Approved a resolution awarding the bid for a police department video system to Star Asset Security for about $120,000.
• Approved a resolution accepting the negotiated price for self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department from Emergency Equipment Professionals for about $29,000.
• Approved a resolution declaring the “Back-to-School” Sales Tax Holiday July 19-21.
• Approved a resolution appropriating funds for the Expect Excellence Program for Fiscal Year 2019 in an amount not to exceed $270,000.
• Approved a resolution authorizing the sole source purchase of a submersible pump from Jim House & Associates for the Utilities Department for about $18,000.
• Approved the submission of the 2018 municipal water pollution prevention annual report.
• Approved a resolution authorizing a contract with Wetland Sciences for ecological services. Also, approved a contract with the same company to perform ecological assessments for a proposed National Fish and Wildlife Foundation land acquisition for about $21,000.
• Approved a resolution authorizing the execution of a right-of-way use agreement for Camp Fox, doing business as Island Fiber.
• Approved a liquor license for C&J Family Enterprises doing business as Bon Temps Poboys & Specialty Meats. It will be located in the old Hot Rod’s Diner space.
• Approved a liquor license for DeSousa Restaurant Group doing business as Steakburger at The Wharf.
• Approved a special events liquor license for Roufusport Martial Arts for May 9 at the Orange Beach Event Center at The Wharf.
During work session the council discussed:
• A resolution authorizing a contract with Polaris Public Safety Solutions for training services at a cost of $2,400.
• A resolution purchasing a Skid-Steer Loader for the Coastal Resources Department for about $80,000
• A resolution authorizing a contract with Burk-Kleinpeter for professional engineering design and construction inspection services for the widening of Callaway Drive in an amount not to exceed $29,274.
Al-Dot puts Beach Rd. medians east of Hwy. 161 on hold
The City of Orange Beach was notified by the Alabama Department of Transportation that it is not pursuing the phase 3 portion of the Perdido Beach Boulevard Median Improvement Project at this time.
With the current two phases built and constructed between Romar Beach and State Highway 161, the Department of Transportation would like to monitor traffic volumes and movements in the area east of the State Highway 161 intersection to determine whether additional improvements are needed.