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

Dave Mathews: 409-683-5258; dave.mathews@galvnews.com

(4) comments

John Merritt

Harborside Drive, just west of 51st Street, is prone to heavy flooding. This needs to be addressed also. If we are evacuating Galveston, Harborside is a major route out of town, particularly for TAMUG students. This problem should be easily solved, since Harborside is only a few hundred yards from the Bay at that point, and a drainage ditch or pipe could be installed with the cooperation of the business along that route. It really needs to be addressed also.

Bill Cochrane

The “improvements” to Harborside are obviously for the cruise traffic. There has been talk o0f more traffic lights. More traffic lights are supposed to help flow, but where there are traffic lights right now, they still have police sitting at the lights manually controlling the lights favoring our cruise guests. The new lights will just impede traffic when there is no cruise traffic. But the burning question is – Has anyone considered using this money to raise Harborside so it does not flood just about every time it rains?

Ron Binkley

If you want Harborside to be a "gateway" we also need to figure in a lot of landscaping to welcome our visitors. The bottom line is that it's darn ugly road as it is now.

Bill Broussard

Both of the above are great discussions.

Let me add: Dave, you almost got there but soft peddeld the idea and backed-off.

For years, folks have talked about a bridge so cruise passengers could get off the boat and walk downtown Galveston or leave from their hotel room, cross over on a bridge and then visit downtown. Why, a port of call gets floated from time to time.

For years, folks have talked about this and its never been done! What has this City got against the downtown? Why not make it accessible, fix the drainage and then do this other stuff?

When I see millions from IDC go put sand on an eroding beach, I have to wonder: Why is the downtown area is so neglected? If you keep this up, we are going to have a downtown just like it was before George.

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