We’re all about to get a big Christmas present.
The start of the the much talked about beach re-nourishment project has been moved to Christmas day. Four miles of beach, starting from 12th street to 61st, will be extended by 100 to 150 feet. For those of you who were around on the beaches in 1993, you’ll remember when we got the first big project done. The sand extended 3/4 of the way out to the end of the longer groins and you could drive around some of the shorter ones.
The project is a partnership between the Galveston Park Board, the City of Galveston, and the Texas General Land Office and has a price tag of 18 million. Sounds like a lot but we’re actually getting an amazing deal on the sand, which the Corps of Engineers is having dredged from the mouth of the ship channel. We’re basically just paying for the transportation of the sand which would go to some area as spoils otherwise.
There are many benefits. Aside from the obvious protection the seawall and the island receive, a significant short term benefit is that a study done a few years back reported that for every dollar put into the beaches we, as a community, get 4 to 7 dollars in return. So money put towards improvements, cleaning and maintenance, security, lifeguarding, and beach nourishment all brings a lot back.
The plan is to use an offshore pipe in 15 feet of water to run sand to the beach at 12th. From there, a “pipeline dredge” process will gradually work its way west, only blocking a small part of the beach off at a time. Working 24/7, they should be finished by March, so by the time Spring Break rolls around we’ll have a whole new beach. Also, the pipes will be covered by periodic pedestrian sand ramps.
This project will mark the third sand nourishment project to be undertaken in Galveston in recent months. In May 2015, more than a half-mile of beach was added west of the Seawall at Dellanera RV Park. In November 2015, a second project added more than a mile of beach along the Seawall west of 61st Street. When combined, the three projects represent a $44 million investment in the Galveston coastline.
For surfers this will have an effect on the waves that will last a few months. Back in ’93 the nourishment project essentially shortened the groins and a sandbar developed a little farther offshore. The waves broke harder, which was nice. But, we also weren’t able to use the shelter of the jetties much for protection from the lateral current. The Flagship (now Pleasure Pier) got really good on both sides with a nice break just inside the “T”. This will probably happen again, but it should be temporary. There also may be places that, for a time, have more of a beach break, like we had at 63rd after the last project. Ultimately there will be more sand in the system, which means better sandbars and better waves once everything settles.