Governor Kay Ivey was on hand at Orange Beach this morning as local and state officials gathered to unveil “The Launch at ICW,” a $ 17 million six-lane boat launch on 47 acres. at the foot of the Foley Beach Express tollgate. bridge. To pay for the project, the state and county each contributed $ 10.1 million and $ 6.9 million, respectively, from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).
In addition to the six launches, the site will also include 200 lighted parking spaces for boats and trailers, 84 spaces for passenger cars, six covered pavilions with picnic seats, a large 600 square foot pavilion, restrooms and more. half a kilometer of sidewalks. Future developments include hiking trails, wooden bridges and fishing docks. The main contractor for the project is McElhenney Construction.
“It will really be an asset to the entire coast,” Ivey said, reiterating his support for conserving GOMESA funds – offshore oil revenues – for use in the Alabama coastal region. “The Gulf Coast of Alabama is the foundation of our state’s natural beauty and it is imperative that we be good stewards of this region. Not only that, but when you support the outdoors, you support the economy.
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship said the demand for public access to outdoor recreation is “through the roof” and was recently identified as one of the three main initiatives of a state commission for innovation. He noted that the Ivey administration had upgraded existing boat launching ramps at Bayou La Batre, Dauphin Island, Causeway, Daphne, Satsuma and elsewhere, while work was underway to repair the pier. of Fort Morgan and Gulf State Park, both damaged by storms.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon has said 2021 has been the busiest year ever at the beach, and boaters park their trailers miles from launches as the spaces are full. Ultimately, he said, the city intends to provide connectivity to the site with other amenities along the Intracoastal Canal, including The Wharf.
State Senator Chris Elliott, who proposed the project in an election year in a move thought to be politically motivated, said it was a “transformative project “.
“The untold story is the impact on the boating public here, but also on those in the county who have immense pressure on their local launches.” Tyler Mitchell, construction manager for Baldwin County, said the project is expected to take eight months, weather permitting, with an expected opening date of February 2022. The county is also maintaining launches in Lillian, Seminole, Live Oak Landing in Stockton and on Honey Road along Fish River.