Bringing beach sand back to Galveston

October 22, 2008 5:23:51 PM PDT
More than a month ago the storm surge of Hurricane Ike battered Galveston's seawall and took away large chunks of the beach. That could put the Galveston landmark at risk.Leaders on Galveston Island are working on a plan to give the seawall some protection, and they'll be shipping in sand to do it.

Visitor Rodney Davis likes walking on the beach, he just wishes he had more beach to walk on.

"It's really good to be out here and enjoy it," he said. "Over here there's a lot of rock surface to walk on. It just feels nicer if you could walk on the sand."

A significant portion of beach washed away from the effect Hurricane Ike's storm surge, jeopardizing the structural integrity of the seawall.

"The seawall that was built 100 years ago -- the first part of it -- the underpinnings are made of wood timbers. If it's not protected by the rocks and the sand, it's subject to failure," explained Eddie Fisher with the Texas General Land Office.

Along 14th Street, there is a cave-in in the sidewalk, where the seawall subsided. We counted nine similar holes along a 10-mile seawall stretch. It is along Galveston's east end at Apfel Park where the state finds a solution.

Fisher said, "This is the area that we have been permitted to dredge material, here and a little further up Boddeker Drive and we're going to pump it into a levee. There's going to be about an 8-foot tall levee created out here."

Trucks will then transport the dredged beach sand -- about a quarter million cubic yards of it -- and place it from 10th Street to 61st Street. The project will restore beach front by 50 to 100 feet.

The seawall protected Island Bicycles and other storefronts and homes, but a damaged seawall means damaged profits. About half of Island Bicycle's business is from bike rentals.

Jeff Nielson explained, "Right now, we can't do any type of rentals and stuff like that, because we feel, to the customers, it's unsafe. Plus, we would have to draw a zigzag map because there's so many holes along the seawall."

The beach renourishment program along the seawall is scheduled to begin in December and be completed in March. The emergency project is expected to cost $6 million. Another project to replenish beaches three to five miles west of the seawall is scheduled to begin in October of next year.

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