Orange Beach/Gulf State Park/Gulf Shores Beach Restoration Project


Location: Gulf Shores/Orange Beach - Baldwin County, AL

Client: City of Orange Beach, AL; City of Gulf Shores, AL

Tasks: Engineer-of-Record for beach restoration; feasibility study for restoration alternatives, permitting, local sponsor technical representative, coastal engineering design, construction contract management and observation, post-construction monitoring, FEMA compliance.


The City of Orange Beach, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), and the City of Gulf Shores, AL , pooled resources to restore 15.3 miles of the Baldwin County, AL Gulf of Mexico shoreline.  The 3-party group retained Olsen Associates, Inc., to design, permit, and bid the construction of the project and to provide contract management, perform construction observation, and conduct post-construction physical monitoring for the restoration project.  Over 7.9 million cubic yards of sand were placed along the project shoreline in 2005-2006 to rebuild the beaches after Hurricane Ivan made landfall in Gulf Shores in September 2004.  Following completion of the beach fill, the newly constructed dune feature was restored with salt-tolerant vegetation and protective sand fencing.  The construction cost of the project totaled $30.9M.
The design of the locally-funded project was based upon a review of historical shoreline changes, numerical modeling of wave transformation and alongshore sediment transport (STWAVE), and cross-shore modeling of beach profile response to storm impacts (SBEACH), including analyses of existing conditions and a suite of beach fill template alternatives.  The three sand borrow sites for the project, located along the project length roughly one mile from shore, were developed from an offshore geotechnical sand search conducted by OAI.  

Construction of the project was marked by the impacts of Tropical Storm Arlene and Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, and Rita.  With financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the project was redesigned while underway and the beaches were restored from the 2005 storm damages.  OAI continues to monitor the engineered beach project and maintain the Beach Maintenance and Monitoring Plan.  Work is underway in 2011 to design and permit the first maintenance renourishment of the engineered beach.

In 2006, the project was designated as a Top Restored Beach by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.

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