Building Alabama’s Bridge to Nowhere

By Bob Keaton

One way to get work in a down economy is to expand your territory as construction company LCI, Inc. has done. By doing that,

Alabama’s new 1,540-foot Gulf State Park Pier nears completion, replacing the pier destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The new pier is the longest on the Gulf of Mexico and is a fisherman’s paradise.

you can increase your bidding potential as the number of bidding opportunities decrease and the number of bidders increase locally. LCI is licensed in Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, and will soon be licensed in Louisiana.

The company reportedly now does between 15 and 20 percent of its work outside its home base of the greater Memphis area. However, there are no reported plans to open new offices in other states. LCI offers a diversity of services including general contracting, marine construction and steel fabrication.

LCI recently handled construction for Alabama’s Gulf State Park project. In addition to constructing the new pier, that project consisted of a new parking lot for 241 cars, seawater in-take system, concession building and restrooms, and fish cleaning stations at the mid pier area, according to project manager Ron Smith Jr., who adds that they were

A John Deere Hydraulic Excavator 270C LC and three lattice-boom cranes in place during construction of Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pier.

glad to have the business for this $16.3 million project.

The 1,540-foot Alabama Gulf State Park Pier, also referred to as the Gulf Shores Fishing Pier and the Orange Beach Fishing Pier, is the longest fishing pier on the Gulf of Mexico. It is located in the Alabama Gulf State Park between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala., and is basically a bridge to nowhere from which people can fish. Pictures shown here are courtesy of

The pier is 20 feet wide and 20 feet above high tide with a pier house/picnic area that is 8,423 square feet. At mid pier there is a 65-foot by 65-foot octagon and a 90-foot by 90-foot octagon at the end of platform. There are 2,448 feet of fishing space along rails. Water depth at the end at high tide is 28 feet. A buried saltwater transfer line transports water from the Gulf of Mexico to the Marine Resources Division’s Claude Peteet Mariculture Center located north of the Intracoastal Waterway. The saltwater is used in culture ponds and brood-rearing tanks.

Other pier amenities include:

  • Air conditioned concessions with seating
  • Souvenir, bait & tackle shop
  • Wheelchair-accessible rail fishing stations
  • Restrooms at entrance and midpoint

    Work under way on the deck and railing of Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pier, also referred to as the Gulf Shores Fishing Pier and the Orange Beach Fishing Pier.
  • Shaded areas at entrance, midpoint and end
  • Picnic tables and benches throughout
  • Lowered railings for wheelchair accessibility
  • Fish cleaning stations
  • Electrical outlets every 100 feet on both sides
  • Turtle-friendly lighting for night fishing

Twelve limestone reef pyramids been strategically placed at three locations around the end of the pier. The pyramids measure 10 feet at the base and stand 8 feet tall. One reef, approximately 20 feet by 50 feet, is made from components of the old pier.

The pier, replacing the one destroyed by Hurricane Ivan on Sept. 16, 2004, took 18 months to build and is constructed of prestressed concrete pilings, girders and pile caps along with wooden handrails and decking. Construction began in December 2007. In 2008, waves from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike damaged the end of the pier, causing a construction delay. Water conditions and

A compact track loader and a Kubota hydraulic excavator are utilized for installing the decking on the Gulf State Park Pier.

high waves during the first half of 2009 also greatly hindered construction progress. There isn’t a lot that a construction crew can do in situations like these other than to remove all that feasibly can be removed, batten down the hatches and “wait it out” until construction can resume.

Despite all the inclement weather, which was beyond the ability of Smith and his crew to control, the pier celebrated its grand opening July 23 when Gov. Bob Riley, along with state and local officials, cut the ribbon on the Alabama Gulf State Park Pier. For more information on Alabama Gulf State Park Pier or to plan a fishing trip, visit or call 251-948-7275.

NOTE: This article appeared in the September 2009 issue of Dixie Contractor, an ACP magazine.

These photos are courtesy of

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