GALVESTON

Enough with the potty talk.

Three years after construction workers set out to install several public restrooms along Seawall Boulevard, the first of the new loos is finally in place.

“We had one of those meetings with the contractor telling them we had to get it going,” City Manager Brian Maxwell said. “We wanted to see tremendous progress happen in a hurry. We’re seeing that and we’re happy about it.”

Crews on Monday installed the first “Portland Loo” stall at 29th Street and Seawall Boulevard, although it won’t be open to the public until all planned toilets are installed, city spokeswoman Jaree Fortin said. Once crews complete construction, there will be five loos along the seawall.

The city does not have an estimated completion date, Fortin said.

The new prefabricated units, which are named, designed and patented by the city of Portland, Ore., have been heralded for their ability to discourage loitering and graffiti. The Loo is built out of stainless steel, and its interior contains only a hand sanitizer dispenser and a flush toilet. A hand washing station and a shower is on the exterior of the unit.

The bottom of the restroom wall is covered by horizontal bars to allow for “community surveillance,” according to the Loo’s advertising brochure. The walls are also designed to be graffiti resistant and tamper proof.

The loos will be on Seawall Boulevard at 19th, 29th, 39th, 45th and 61st streets, Fortin said. They will all be anchored in the ground and tied to the city utility system.

The toilets are part of a long-running, $6 million project to improve Seawall Boulevard. This iteration of seawall improvements goes back to 2006, although the topic has been discussed for at least 40 years.

In 2006, private contractors completed a transit study meant to improve pedestrian access and traffic along the seafront street. The project broke ground in 2014 and was scheduled to be complete by mid-2015. The contractor, General Contractor Services, experienced several delays because of problems connecting the city’s utility system, Fortin said.

“They have been working on the project,” Fortin said. “They hit several obstructions underneath the roadway. A lot of the hold up on time has been behind the scenes.”

The city did threaten to initiate a liquidated damages clause in the contract to “speed up the process,” Fortin said. Such clauses typically specify that a contractor must pay or forego payment of predetermined amounts of money for failing to meet deadlines.

The new toilets are closely tied into transportation projects on Seawall Boulevard. Each unit will be near a new bus stop, and the funding was largely obtained through a series of federal transportation grants.

The units cost $90,000 each, and maintenance will be funded by seawall parking fees, Fortin said.

Samantha Ketterer: 409-683-5241; samantha.ketterer@galvnews.com or on Twitter at @sam_kett

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(7) comments

David Schuler

Won't open until all are done. Let's think 2018. That's just as stupid as digging all six holes in the seawall and blocking pedestrian traffic for months just to discover how hard it is. Build one, complete one, move on. That's the intelligent way to deal with unknowns while minimizing inconvenience to our visitors. And why did it take threats to get some progress?

Kelly Campbell

Bring them online as they are completed so that problems with the install can be headed off with the remaining facilities rather than discover the same problem with all of them all at once.

Steve Fouga

"The city does not have an estimated completion date, Fortin said."

Of course not. Why not?

Clemmie White

So, I started whining about this when I first came to Galveston. I whined about it in the Daily News, whined about it on the Tourism Committee on the Park Board, whined with Jerry in front of City Council. On behalf of myself and the many others who whined about the common sense of having a few bathrooms where there is a beach with KIDS...THANK YOU!!!

Steve Fouga

Hmmmm, does anyone know whether the existing porta-potties will be kept? Will there be a net increase in the number of potties?

Paul Steele

$90K each, wow for a one bathroom and an outside shower.

David Schuler

One more thing - having lived in Portland for 10 years, i discovered that nothing rusts there. It gets covered in mold, yes, but doesn't rust. I might feel more comfortable if these were "Miami Beach Loos". But we'll see.

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