Leonard Kaiser, left, and Richard Schwartz look at plans for the Wolf Bay bridge.By John Mullen

October 23, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – If there’s one person who’ll be affected most by Orange Beach’s effort to finally get a Wolf Bay bridge it’s Richard Schwartz, owner of the iconic Doc’s Seafood Shack and Oyster Bar.

The ramp for the bridge will split two pieces of property he owns at ground zero, one where his restaurant sits and one where his customers and employees park. 

A resident talks with an engineer about the Wolf Bay bridge project.But the longtime restauranteur has been around long enough to know this bridge can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

“Isn’t it amazing that everybody’s got such different perceptions of what’s going to happen?” Schwartz said. “It affects everybody so much. And everybody has different perceptions and they are all credible. And everybody’s perception is correct.”

Schwartz ended his comments on a wry note.

“You can’t please everybody,” he said.

On Oct. 22 the city invited citizens to the Orange Beach Community Center to examine plans for the Wolf Bay bridge and ask questions of those hired to make those plans. According to a handout the first phase is concentrating on permits, environmental and engineering with a goal of starting construction in 12 to 24 months. The meeting is required by the Coast Guard as part of getting its blessing for the project. Check out all the maps and information boards from the meeting by clicking here.

“Tonight’s meeting is about the permitting process,” City Administrator Ken Grimes said. “This gives the community the chance to see the design, the plans and the general focus of where it’s heading so far. Specifically, only the Wolf Bay Bridge and all of the engineering firms that are involved were invited to come and answer any technical questions for people.”

Once the construction phase begins it is expected to take 30 to 36 months to complete.

For long-time resident Sue Davis, it’s a bit bittersweet to finally see progress made toward another bridge and another way north out of Orange Beach.

“Living on this (east) end of the island if we’re able to get off the island here it’s a win-win,” Davis said. “We’re going to have a high school and all kinds of things to get through on Canal Road to get to the Foley Beach Express. We would avoid all that with a bridge.”

Residents look over plans for the Wolf Bay bridge in Orange Beach.At the same time, Davis is sad to see the quaint community she moved to become larger and larger.

“It’s good and bad what it will do for us,” she said. “I loved it when we were little but we’re growing and we’re going to grow more when you put a bridge over there. There’ll be another police station and another fire station. It’ll have to be but that’s part of and that’s progress.”

Linda Tucker lives on Bay Drive across the street from Wolf Bay. She’ll be able to see the bridge from her front porch.

“That bridge will be in the way of the sunset,” Tucker said. “I’ll see right through the bridge so the sunset will be above and the sunset will be below. Maybe it’ll get rid of the some of the rattlesnakes. Sapling Point has so many snakes.

Funding for the bridge will come from an extra 2 percent on the lodging tax paid by the hordes of vacationers who visit the resort town. The current rate is 13 percent with the city getting 7 percent, the state 4 percent and the remaining 2 percent goes to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism for marketing.

“I believe it could be used for other purposes but quite frankly I’m opposed to the 2 percent lodging tax as well,” resident John McCabe said. “I think it’s gouging the people.”