City of Orange Beach officials are looking to spend up to $10 million to make the once-popular Perdido Pass seawall overlooking the Florida-Alabama state line usable again.
The seawall was once an attractive fishing and sightseeing spot under the Perdido Pass bridge. The seawall has been closed to the public behind a chain-link fence since 2012 because the structure is falling apart and unsafe for recreational use.
The Alabama Department of Transportation has said for several years that state funds are unavailable to rebuild the wall, estimated to cost up $10 million. In the state’s absence, local officials have stepped up.
City of Orange Beach officials say the initial plan is to convert the area behind the seawall to a beach-like shoreline, removing impervious asphalt and concrete that has continually been eroded. Plans also call for moving the parking lot further inland.
Orange Beach Director of Coastal Resources Phillip West says the project could range from $300,000 to $10 million, depending on what city officials decide to propose to the state. The land falls under the jurisdiction of the state and requires approval from Montgomery.
The seawall surrounding the shore along Alabama Point has been slammed by frequent high surf and has been significantly eroded.
City officials says the failure of the seawall is being caused by rust along the metal barrier that is often overtopped by sea water. Over 30 years, the seawall has corroded, allowing the sand that stabilizes the shoreline to escape through rusted-out holes in the barrier. As sand has been eroded away, the parking lot along the seawall has collapsed over time.
Orange Beach has been working with engineering firm Burk-Kleinpeter to study the extent of the damage and to present a plan to the city to reopen the recreational area to the public.
Officials say an initial fix would seek to bring public access back to Alabama point and may not be a permanent solution. It could take several years to find money to rebuild the wall completely. Other parts of the plan being considered are permanent bathrooms to replace the port-a-lets and a fish-cleaning house.