Work to begin this month on O.B. Intracoastal Waterway boat launch
Launching boats into the Intracoastal Waterway at a new ramp adjacent to the Beach Express toll bridge should become a reality by the spring of 2022, as a contractor has been hired and work will begin this month on the 48 acre county owned parcel.
“I am excited,” Baldwin County Engineer Joey Nunnally said with a laugh. “This is one of the best ones I’ve been associated with being with the county. I’m as excited over this as I am building the Baldwin Beach Express. This is going to be a really nice boat launch, very sorely needed and it can’t get done quick enough.”
County leaders caused a bit of a stir when they announced plans to buy 48 acres on the Intracoastal Waterway just west of the Beach Express toll bridge in Orange Beach in 2018. They immediately announced plans to use it to build a boat launch on the site and it is finally ready to go out to bid.
“The Corps held us up just a little bit but we had to delay this about a month waiting on the Corps to get us what we needed but we got it,” Nunnally said. “We have a mooring pier, we’re going to have a restroom facility, we’re going to have a break-water pier, some courtesy docks, six 12×18 picnic pavilions and then one large 20×30 grand pavilion.”
Boating wise, there will be 152 spots to park trailers and an overflow trailer parking lot on gravel that can accommodate 46 more boats. There will be 86 regular parking spots for cars. Construction costs will be about $9.4 million and both the land purchase and construction will be paid by GOMESA money out of the portion of the oil and gas lease money the state receives from Gulf of Mexico wells.
Orange Beach officials are giving the project a thumbs up.
“In the current configuration, we support it,” Mayor Tony Kennon said. “Initially it was too big and we thought it would be a real problem in that location with the bridge. It’s roughly 150 spots. I think that it’s going to be a good addition and the right size in the right place.”
When the project was first announced officials said there would be room for 12 boat launches with parking for about 450 trailers and another 50 spaces for vehicles.
Two huge areas are marked for future development and Nunnally already has some other things he’d like to see at the site including nature trails on the east side of the property.
The state provided $2.6 million for the construction of the launch and $7.5 million for procurement of the property from the GOMESA fund. The launch project to be located just west of the Foley Beach Express on Brown Lane on the northside of the Intracoastal Waterway. The multi-million dollar project will allow boaters access to the ICW, Mobile Bay, Perdido Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
“Great cooperation between the City of Orange Beach the Baldwin County Commission and state officials to make this project a reality,” State Rep. Chris Elliott said when the construction funds were released. “I would like to particularly thank DCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship for his strong advocacy for this project.”
When the project was first announced officials said there would be room for 12 boat launches with parking for about 450 trailers and another 50 spaces for vehicles. The site would also have two kayak launches and picnic areas. This is what the 40-plus acres could hold but the final product is expected change based on what the federal permits will allow.
Pictured: Rending of plans for a new boat launch on 48 acres of county owned property on the Intracoastal Waterway in Orange Beach. The plan includes more than 20 acres that will be set aside for future improvements.