The bids are in, but there’s still no clear sign when the state will close a popular county fishing spot.

The Texas General Land Office confirmed Monday it had received bids from companies on how much it would cost to fill Rollover Pass, but the agency hasn’t moved ahead with the controversial project.

Despite plans announced earlier this year to close the manmade pass by October, the land office as of last week hadn’t chosen a contractor, a spokeswoman said.

“We are continuing to evaluate the bids and work through the negotiation process,” land office spokeswoman Karina Erickson said.

Rollover Pass is a man-made waterway that flows between the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Constructed in 1954, the pass is a popular fishing spot for local anglers.

The land office has planned to close the pass for more than 10 years because it causes erosion on Gulf beaches and silting in the waterway, officials said. The state spends about $650,000 a year to repair the erosion and more to dredge the canal.

The land office has issued two requests for proposals for the project since March. The initial request was rebid after it generated just a single response with a quote of $12 million. That bid was much higher than what the state believed the project should cost, officials said.

The state in 2008 appropriated $5.85 million to close the pass, although legal challenges and other red tape have long delayed the project.

The state intends to fill the pass with soil and build a public park and fishing pier on top of it, officials have said.

A second bid for the project was issued in July and officials said they hoped the project would start about October.

Galveston County Commissioner Darrell Apffel, who represents Bolivar Peninsula, said the state had informed county leaders the bidding was closed and that an announcement was coming.

The county isn’t pressuring the land office to hurry with the closure, Apffel said.

“Every day it’s open is another day people can catch fish in the pass,” Apffel said. “I’ve got as many people that want it closed as want it to stay open.”

Meanwhile, a legal challenge to the pass-filling project is still winding its way through an appeals court. The Gilchrist Community Association has asked the 14th Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court’s decision and void Galveston County’s use of eminent domain to acquire around the pass.

The county reached a $1.7 million settlement with the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel and Gun Club to purchase 16 acres around the pass in July 2017. The club is not part of the legal appeal, and county attorneys have argued the community association does not have standing to appeal the previous ruling.

The association and the county have submitted briefs over the appeal, but no decision had been made as of Tuesday, according to court records.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Senior Reporter

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