The Industrial Development Corp. might commit millions of dollars toward a stalled project to build a new bridge from Galveston to Pelican Island.
City officials Tuesday proposed the corporation earmark about $5 million to cover the city’s share of a project that could cost $91 million.
About $2.3 million of that could come by diverting money planned to help pay for an elevated walkway from downtown to the Port of Galveston.
Setting aside the $5 million would send a good message, even after a legislative move in May blocked a deal reached between the city and Galveston County to build the bridge, Mayor Jim Yarbrough said.
The corporation deferred the decision until the next meeting in August, citing additional questions about funding priorities.
The corporation is a city organization that oversees money collected through sales tax and funds many park, beach building, infrastructure and economic development projects.
It’s important the city and the corporation show commitment to the bridge, despite obstacles the project faces, Yarbrough said.
Texas A&M University at Galveston officials, who wanted a bridge routed around, rather than through, their Pelican Island campus, as the city and county proposed, managed to get a rule that blocks the Texas Department of Transportation from funding a bridge without Legislative Budget Board permission.
The university wants a new bridge, but one that would cost at least $91 million, as opposed to a $77 million bridge running through the campus, officials have said.
While some city and county leaders have pronounced the bridge project dead, university leaders, who recently met state transportation officials, believe there might still be a way to pay for the rerouted bridge, officials have said.
If it approved the funding, the corporation would commit about $1 million a year for five years, Yarbrough said.
Showing commitment to the bridge was important, but the the corporation shouldn’t abandon the walkover project, District 5 Councilman John Paul Listowski, who sits on the board, said.
“I think this place holder for the Pelican Island bridge is good,” Listowski said. “I do think the walkover has some importance there and we’ll need to come back and revisit it.”
Other members of the corporation board agreed the walkover should not be forgotten.
The Pelican Island Bridge, built in 1957, could stand for another 20 years before it’s considered unsafe, officials have said.
The board will likely vote on the allocating the money during its August meeting.