Earlier this week, Galveston announced plans to spend about $2.3 million on Harborside Drive as a continuation of plans to improve the traffic flow.
Consistently, with the growth of the cruise industry, we have held the notion that Harborside Drive should be as essential a gateway onto the island as Broadway, and this round of improvements is not only welcomed but needed.
For years, the gateway road for many tourists visiting Galveston has been Broadway. Over the years and the growth of the cruise industry, the gateway for many first-time visitors to the island is now Harborside Drive.
It is their first impression of Galveston. And what impression is it, a traffic jam in a dilapidated industrial area?
Harborside Drive is a heavily trafficked route, particularly on days cruise ships arrive and depart, and also runs through the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital campus. Not only should the changes improve traffic flow, but officials say it will also improve safety.
But we agree with people who say the work on Harborside Drive should not start in earnest until other road projects in the area — such as Market and other downtown streets — are completed.
While road construction will almost always require temporary delays in traffic, regardless of how well planned. When it is not coordinated well, it leads to not only frustration but loss of revenue to businesses along the way.
Included in any further plans to improve traffic flow along Harborside should be a look at getting an elevated road over the railroad tracks. To have one of the city's main arteries cut by a rail line makes little sense to us.
Business leaders and city officials point to the increase in cruise traffic and its positive economic impact. That the cruise industry continues to grow is good news.
In an editorial two years ago, we urged the city and port officials to consider Harborside Drive as much of a gateway and waterfront. It should also be considered a part of downtown Galveston.
While officials and business owners talk about plans to entice people to come and stay longer in the downtown area, the major component of the plan ought to be how to improve Harborside Drive.
• Dave Mathews