GULF SHORES — The first step in a $3.55-million project to improve the road running north of the Intracoastal Waterway is moving forward with action by the Gulf Shores City Council.
The council voted Monday, April 11, to approve a contract with Barge Design Solutions to design the realignment and improvement on Waterway West Boulevard. The company will be paid up to $22,500 for the work.
"Waterway Boulevard is in desperate need of repairs," Mark Acreman, city engineer, said during a discussion of the project at a Gulf Shores work session.
He said the road has no walkways for pedestrians, and a planned Legendary Marine development on the boulevard will bring increased traffic from large trucks delivering boats.
"One of the parts of this study that will be very important is looking at our current roadway alignments to see what accommodations will be needed for those boats," Acreman said.
The study will look at what improvements are needed and develop estimates of construction costs and timelines.
"We requested a proposal from Barge Design Solutions to evaluate the current roadway alignment and condition as well as look at potential alternate alignment for this roadway to address the geometry and also to plan ahead for future growth in that area," Acreman said.
One possible change would be a new roadway linking the boulevard to Gulf Shores Parkway instead of the sharp turn at the entrance to Waterway West.
The project is in the budget for the current 2022 fiscal year. Acreman said wetlands in the area could affect construction schedules.
"Depending on where the alignments ultimately fall, we expect to have some wetlands impacts in some of these areas and, therefore, that could have a major impact on our scheduling as well as our construction costs," he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also working on a project for improvements on Waterway West Boulevard, Acreman said.
The NOAA project will use money from the federal Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf States Act. The RESTORE act uses money from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to pay for projects in Gulf Coast states affected by the 2010 disaster.
The NOAA Waterway West project is intended to address flooding problems along the west end of the road during high tides. That work will include installing a 24-foot by 4-foot box culvert under the roadway and raising the grade of the road about 200 feet.
Acreman said that project is also scheduled to begin this year, but planners are waiting on funding from the RESTORE Council.
Councilman Phillip Harris said during the work session that the improvements have been needed for a long time.
"It's a unique opportunity that we have in that we've got a clean slate of paper over there to work with and multiple landowners collaborating their plans with each other and the city and opportunities to potentially improve access points, improve traffic flow and drainage, so excellent opportunity to investigate that," Harris said.