Design flaw surfaces at Baldwin County’s new $17 million dollar boat launch and park

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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) – The Launch at ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) is set to officially open Thursday, April 28, 2022. Contractors are still putting the finishing touches on some of the amenities, but the boat ramps have already been opened. Some boaters have noticed a problem and have reached out to the county to fix it.

The issue they’ve noticed is a slight difference in height from one side of the boat ramp to the other. This causes the boat’s trailer to vary in height from one side to the other. Boat owners say this makes it particularly hard loading vessels back onto trailers evenly, causing delays and frustration.

“I think it will create a problem and the problem being, the more boaters you have here, the more problems you’re going to have getting in and out,” said Baldwin County resident and boat owner, Will Thompson.

Baldwin County Engineer, Joey Nunnally is aware of the complaints and recognizes there’s a problem, particularly with larger boats, pontoons or catamarans. The problem is easily visible, and some boats had issues while Fox 10 News was there Tuesday, April 19. Nunnally said he’s already working with all parties involved in the build.

The slope of the boat ramp from one side to the other tilts trailers and makes it difficult to...
The slope of the boat ramp from one side to the other tilts trailers and makes it difficult to load some boats(Hal Scheurich)

“Us and the design engineers all went down yesterday and looked at it,” Nunnally said. “The design engineers are back down there today taking some further measurements and investigations and we’ll figure it out.”

Nunnally said it’s too soon to know what it will take to fix the problem or if enough users will have issues to warrant a fix. Boaters Fox 10 News spoke with Tuesday said it’s pretty obvious and hope something will be done.

“The boat will not go on there straight. If there’s any current or wind blowing, you might have to try three or four times to get it back on there,” explained Kentucky resident and boat owner, Dennis Johnson.

How big a problem is this?

“We’re investigating that to try and figure out how bad that is and what kind of…are these just minor issues or are these major issues that need to be addressed,” Nunnally explained.

There’s a great deal of excitement over The Launch at ICW and with good reason. The 40-plus acre park will fill a big need for the growing number of boaters using our waters. The $17-million-dollar project is all but complete. Whatever fix is required, it won’t fall on Baldwin County to pay.

Fox 10 News spoke with the contractor in charge of the construction. They said they followed the engineering design to the letter and that they’ll be working with the county and the design group to rectify any problems.

County officials said none of this should interfere with the ribbon cutting ceremony later this month.

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