Cotton Bayou Trail Paved

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Posted: February 4, 2014

ORANGE BEACH, AL — With the paving of the almost mile-long Cotton Bayou stretch of the Backcountry Trail, Phillip West’s vision of the facility is almost complete.

At least the first phase, anyway.

He’d still like to see the north-south route on Powerline Road completed and a new trail north of the campground to the State Road 2 trailhead.

“If we could get those two components in I’d say we’d have about 90 percent of our interior network,” West, the Coastal Resources Director for Orange Beach, said.

It’s been a big year for the trail system with the opening of the Cotton Bayou spur with paving of a northern section of Powerline Line road by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber and the completion of Coyote Crossing from the State Road 2 to Alabama 59 in Gulf Shores.

“Gulf Shores just completed a vital section linking the Backcountry Trail and are expanding it to the Fort Morgan Road Trail,” West said. “That was a very strategic, very vital link.”

Now the city has just settled with Brett/Robinson over public benefits it sought for allowing zoning variances for the largest residential building in Alabama, Phoenix West II.

Part of that deal means the real estate company must pave Powerline Road from Alabama 182, or beach road, to the Rosemary Dunes trail. That half mile will leave just the stretch of Powerline Road between Campground Road and Rosemary Dunes as the only unpaved portion on the north-south route.

“We have to start that conversation with the state and Powersouth,” West said. “Some of it’s their property and some of its state property. It’ll take us about a year to get the details worked out on that.”
Once all the permits and OK’s are in place, Brett/Robinson has one year to have the 12-foot, half-mile path paved.

“We’ve connected to the major transportation network,” West said. “We wanted trailheads on 161, we wanted trailheads off of Canal Road, we wanted trailheads over in the park like on State Road 2. And now at 180 by Walmart and we’ve got them on the beach road.

“We’ve connected with the transportation alternative, but we wanted it to be ADA compliant and truly a transportation facility. It is an alternative. Now that this part is paved, that entire campground village and the cabins that are connected to it and can easily go to the shopping and entertainment here without ever getting on the highway.”

The new Cotton Bayou spur is also 12-feet wide to meet the new standard for the system’s trails. The initial trails were 10-feet wide.

“I would have really liked to have kept it at 10 because this one is so tight,” West said. “But then again with all the blind curves there is more room to avoid one another. They’ve done a really good job. The edges are clean, the curves sweep.”
With the heavy equipment out of the way, West said there’s still a little bit of work to be done on the sides of the new path.

“There’s a little bit of wrap up to be done by smoothing out the sides and the shoulders,” he said. “We want them to come in with a grader and create more of a flush surface and we’ll plant that.”

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