$ 22 million grant to strengthen causeway “ lifeline ” to Dauphin Island, adding salt marsh habitat
Before traffic to Dauphin Island crosses a high bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, it crosses a low, narrow causeway vulnerable to hurricane damage. This strip of land is set to receive more than $ 30 million in reinforcement, which will also add an expanse of salt marsh habitat to the shoreline.
The Mobile County Commission voted on Monday to accept a $ 22.6 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for work that will protect the causeway as well as hundreds of acres of salt marsh in the west, while adding a new swamp to the east.
“This project restores and conserves critical habitat along the Dauphin Island Causeway,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “At the same time, it protects and strengthens the road which is the hurricane escape route for Dauphin Island.”
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier described the causeway as “an important lifeline” to residents and visitors to the island and said he anticipated “many positive results generated from the comprehensive restoration project. of the coast ”.
The money, coming from the NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, comes from criminal penalties paid by companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and does not require any local matching funds. “This is a great opportunity for Mobile County to receive grants for a project that will preserve the environment and protect infrastructure at no cost to county taxpayers,” said County Commissioner for District 3, Randall Dueitt.
Previous grants totaling $ 500,000 paid for some planning work, and an additional $ 7.8 million will come to the project through another NFWF program, bringing the total to about $ 31 million. A statement released by the Mobile County Commission after the vote described it as “one of the biggest and most significant investments in an Alabama coastal restoration project to date.”
According to project documents released earlier in the planning and financing process, the project will create an offshore breakwater parallel to the causeway to the east. The space between the shore and the breakwater will be partially filled, using material dredged from the moving channel, to create a marsh that will further protect the roadway against wave impact.
According to information previously released by the NFWF, the breakwater will span approximately 3 miles, roughly from Bayfront Park to Cedar Park along Ala.193, and approximately 60 acres of coastal marsh will be created.
According to information released by the county commission, the design and engineering have been completed and work will begin this summer. “The completion schedule is somewhat dependent on the dredging of the Army Corps of Engineers to extend the Mobile Bay shipping channel,” the commission’s announcement said Monday.
“The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation greatly appreciates the strong leadership and hard work of the Mobile County Commission, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other partners in the ‘progress of this important restoration project, ”Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF, said in the statement issued by the commission. “The Foundation remains deeply committed to investing in large-scale restoration efforts such as the Dauphin Island shoreline and causeway habitat restoration project that enhances and protects coastal habitats for the benefit of native species and local communities that depend on it. The announcement also credited the National Mobile Bay Estuary Program for its support for the project.