A real 'road' to recovery

May 4, 2009 5:44:52 PM PDT
There's another big milestone on the road to recovery. For the first time since Hurricane Ike, the "Blue Water Highway" is now open. It's the only major thoroughfare between Galveston and Surfside. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Casting a line might be easy for Gordon Hunnington, but ever since Hurricane Ike hit getting to his favorite fishing spots between the San Luis Pass and Surfside has been a serious challenge. That's because Blue Water Highway, the one link between Surfside and Galveston was severely damaged, and everyone suffered.

"It kind of looked like the road to Baghdad," recalled restaurant owner Lin Biar. "There were big potholes, chunks of it gone."

Business at Biar's Red Snapper Inn Restaurant along the highway has picked up recently because repairs on the Blue Water Highway were finally completed after Brazoria County Commissioner Dude Payne and other local leaders pushed through federal funding.

"This is a vital link to tourism for Brazoria County and Surfside and Galveston," Payne explained. "We have traffic count numbers that say over 400,000 a year use it."

Until the highway was fully repaired, people would be forced to drive on beach during portions where the highway didn't exist. During high tide, the entire road would often be shut down.

Those days, for now, are over. Fresh black asphalt has replaced storm debris and lagoons. A solid road means more cars, and that's good for business.

Biar said, "We're starting to see more and more people from West End that we haven't seen for a while."

That means an even better summer for fishermen like Hunnington.

I'm glad," he said. "I do a lot of fishing down here. A lot of people use this road. It's a good thing. I'm glad to see it open again."

County officials say they're still working to get more federal dollars to build additional buffers between the beach and the highway. They admit if another storm strikes the Surfside area this summer, the road could wash out once again.

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