At Gulf Shore, Alabama's Little Lagoon, construction of a new bridge will put dozens of construction employees to work, while engineers will redesign the channel in a project that could take nearly two years to complete, the Baldwin Press Register reports.
According to the news source, the project - estimated to cost upwards of $8 million - is still subject to an environmental review by the Federal Highway Administration, as the bridge will connect to a pass that lines the lagoon, according to Vince Calametti, Alabama Department of Transportation division engineer.
Bidding from construction companies will begin this fall, while work is set to begin during the annual Shrimp Festival, held October 11-14.
Construction crews will work to widen the existing two-lane bridge to 80 feet, as the region has seen an increase in bicyclists and pedestrians who need a better way to span the lagoon and hopes to accommodate them on the bridge. The bridge's height will not be changed, however the piling walls will be refurbished, and a walkway will also be constructed beneath the road span, the news provider stated.
Calametti added that the construction project will likely cause minor inconveniences for residences in the area, however a temporary access bridge will be installed to keep traffic flowing. Public response to the proposed project has remained positive so far, Calametti told the Press Register.
Engineers will also design a new inlet around the bridge.
"Improved navigation will be a byproduct of the new channel," Calametti said. "But water transfer and water quality are the goal."
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, a strong pickup in construction activity - which the group says is starting - could greatly benefit the country's employment. An additional $1 billion invested in nonresidential construction would create or sustain 28,500 jobs, roughly one-third of which would be on-site construction jobs.
About one-sixth of the jobs would benefit indirectly from construction supply companies and services. About half of the jobs would be created once the construction employers spend their higher incomes, which would benefit Alabama and surrounding states.
Nationwide, the construction industry employed 5.6 million workers in February 2012, a 169,000-job increase compared with the same month in 2011. In Alabama, construction employment in February 2012 totaled 75,000. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that construction employment has remained on the plateau it reached earlier in the year.