Bringing back Galveston's beaches

December 15, 2008 4:25:52 PM PST
Galveston's beaches have not been the same since Hurricane Ike, but a major restoration project is an important step on the road to recovery. Bulldozers started moving sand that will eventually be used to replenish the seawall. It's a welcome sight for business owners. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The project is extensive, nearly half a million cubic yards of beach quality sand moved and dumped on beaches along the seawall, from 10th Street to 61st Street.

"We're scraping it right now, stockpiling the sand and hauling later this week to the beach area at 61st Street and working our way east," explained Lou Muller with the Galveston Island Park Board.

The goal is to re-nourish existing seawall area beaches to pre-Hurricane Ike condition. That means placing sand outward 230 feet and upward about five feet. The heavy sand moving trucks have a March 31st completion deadline. Not a day too soon for the Olympia Grill, where business has been steady but could be a lot better when spring break tourists return.

"Actually, we are waiting for our beaches to become like they were, beautiful. The beaches are what keep the tourists coming," restaurant worker Wendy Hsu said.

Gaping holes in the concrete make the seawall particularly vulnerable. They expose timber underpinnings in place since the seawall was built in 1904. Without protection from the sand, tides could completely wash out the timbers and collapse the seawall.

"Another phase of the project will actually be dredging from off the south jetty to a disposal pond in Apfel Park," Muller explained. "We will water that sand and haul it by truck to the seawall area itself."

The first part of the project will be completed by March, due to the nesting schedules of the Ridley sea turtles. Another phase of the project will begin in October.

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