Gulf Shores passes changes to parasail regulations

By: Crystal Cole/ Islander Editor
Posted 3/6/19

The City of Gulf Shores recently amended an ordinance regarding parasailing in an effort to make those operations safer.

The ordinance requires a corridor marked by buoys to allow for visibility …

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Gulf Shores passes changes to parasail regulations


The City of Gulf Shores recently amended an ordinance regarding parasailing in an effort to make those operations safer.

The ordinance requires a corridor marked by buoys to allow for visibility of vehicles going in and out of the water. The old regulations called for those markers to be placed at 100 feet, 200 feet and 300 feet from shore. The changes bring those markers closer to shore and closer together at 30 feet, 60 feet and 90 feet.

Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Grant Brown said the previous distances were not sufficient enough to allow for safe travels.

Beach Safety Officer Melvin Shepard explained the need for these changes.

“Right now, the first buoy is at 100 feet, so we’re having trouble with swimmers getting in the way of these jet skis as they come into shore,” Shepard said. “We had a swimmer last year get hit by a jet ski because of this. So, we just feel that bringing them closer into shore will help the swimmers identify these areas.”

INFRA grant

The Gulf Shores City Council authorized staff to pursue INFRA Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for construction of the State Highway 59 Capacity

Improvements Project.

The Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant Program provides dedicated, discretionary funding for projects that address critical issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and will make approximately $1.5 billion available to projects that improve transportation infrastructure and support four key objectives: (1) supporting economic vitality at the national or regional level, (2) leveraging federal funding to attract non-federal infrastructure investment, (3) using innovation to improve safety and expedite project delivery, and (4) achieve specific, measurable outcomes.

Environmental/ Grants Coordinator Dan Bond said the city would be leveraging some of the improvements already laid out in the 10-year capital plan to help get federal funding to do more improvements.

City Administrator Steve Griffin said because of this there would not be any new fund matching required by the city.

“This is like money over the top of what we’ve already budgeted,” Griffin said.

City staff would like to apply for funding through the INFRA Program for the “State Highway 59 Capacity Improvements Project.” This project will increase capacity along State HWY 59 from County Road 6 to Clubhouse Drive by adding an additional southbound lane, constructing a new pedestrian bridge across the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) to connect the north and south Waterway Village areas, and improving intersections at County Road 6, Cotton Creek Drive, and the proposed HWY 59 medical facility access roads. State HWY 59 is the main traffic artery from I-10 to the economic centers of Foley, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Baldwin County, and traffic congestion is a growing problem in the region. This project will be designed in coordination with the $21.7M RESTORE ALDOT Capacity project to increase efficiency from HWY 59 to the Foley Beach Express, improve access to the aviation and business park, improve traffic conditions on the north and south sides of the Holmes Bridge, and coordinate access with the new State Bridge across the ICW. The project will also improve traffic flow and access to the Jack Edwards Airport, the Foley Beach Express, and provide alternate routes for emergency vehicles. The total project cost is estimated at $20,000,000. The federal share from the INFRA program is estimated at $12,000,000. The city’s total match is estimated at $8,000,000 consisting of projects identified in the city’s 10-year capital plan.