If you’ve driven along the western part of the Seawall recently, you may have noticed some activity at the beach and a giant pipe lying in the water. You guessed it – a beach replenishment is set to begin.

The $20.9 million project will dredge sand from the Galveston Ship Channel and is expected to place a portion of the material, up to 711,000 cubic yards, along the island’s seawall beginning at 61st Street moving west toward 83rd Street. The project is a collaborative effort sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Galveston Park Board, City of Galveston and the Texas General Land Office (GLO).

“This beach expansion project continues our mission to increase recreation areas for our visitors and to protect the seawall – and the island – from erosion and future storm surges,” Park Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said.

The project will be completed using a “hopper dredge” process. A dredger is a ship that is equipped with suction pipes that descend to the bottom of the seabed. On the end of the pipe is a trailing drag head that works like a vacuum to suck the material up into the pipe and place it in the hold of the ship, the hopper. The dredger then sails to the pipe that’s stationed at the beach and attaches to it. The material in the hopper is pumped into the pipe and out onto the beach. Heavy equipment works to spread the sand.

According to USACE representatives, the dredged material used for the project is rigorously tested to meet federal and state standards. There are physical testing and chemical screening processes in place to ensure that no contaminants are present in the material. The sand will appear very dark at first, but the sun will lighten it over the course of a few months.

Residents and visitors will have limited access to the beaches in the project area during dredging. As the pipes move westward, beaches will open, and close temporarily, in coordination with sand placement. The beach placement project is expected to last about a month.

This project will mark the third sand replenishment project to be undertaken in Galveston since 2015, when Babe’s Beach was created. In 2017, the beaches were nourished between 12th and 61st streets.

“Galveston’s beaches are truly Texas’ beaches,” de Schaun said. “People from all over the state come here with their families to make memories. These investments in Galveston will ensure that future generations will be able to make memories of their own.”

Watch our beaches grow at www.galveston.com/sandcam.

Park board meetings are typically held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at 601 23rd St.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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