In essence, the Wolf Bay Bridge project undertaken by the city of Orange Beach is scratching the surface for the first time.
“It’s not construction,” Kit Alexander, the city’s director of community development, said. “It’s just investigation at this time.”
Alexander said the work done in the coming weeks will eventually play a role in designing the supports for the span.
“That’s geotechnical exploration to evaluate where the bridge pylons are going to go,” Alexander said. “They need to do that in order to determine where the embedments will be. They are going to start on the north shore and then move to the south. It’ll be done weekdays, 24/7.”
Tuscaloosa Testing Laboratories (TTL) was hired for the job, and is scheduled to be deployed from Barber Marina during the week of Feb. 25.
“Burk-Kleinpeter is our consultant that’s handling the bridge design and the oversight on all of the design and permitting issues,” Alexander said. “TTL is an environmental firm that’s working with Burk-Kleinpeter. It’s an inherent part of the bridge design to do this work beforehand in order to facilitate the design of the bridge.”
Alexander said the drilling would likely last about a month, weather permitting. She said as the operation moves south and closer to town, noise from the drilling could become an issue. If it does, Alexander said, the city will look at limiting the work to daylight hours.
A few miles west of this proposed span, little work has been done on a state bridge and road project to bypass the Foley Beach Express toll bridge. Several of the land acquisition cases are still in court as landowners dispute the price the state is trying to pay for their homes and/or land.
“All right of way has either been closed by deed or award paid into probate court,” Southwest Region Assistant Engineer Brian Aaron said. “The new intersection coming off of the Foley Beach Express may add a new tract.”
On the ground, nothing has happened yet, Aaron said, but plans are being made for that intersection.
“We’re updating the intersection design at Foley Beach Express since the public meeting, and working with the [Army] Corps [of Engineers] on the permit,” Aaron said.
Mike Powell, a resident of nearby Craft Farms, was part of that public interaction to prevent a flyover bridge to connect the new road to the beach express. Instead of looking out their windows at a bridge, the state is designing a roundabout.
“Of course, we don’t want the road, but if it had to go that way that’s the way we would prefer,” Powell said of the roundabout.
Aaron said once the intersection design is complete, the next phase will be construction in two phases — the road phase and the bridge phase and its landing on the south side of Canal Road. The biggest holdup at this point is the final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which hasn’t come through.
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