Galveston County chooses firm to navigate process of using eminent domain on Rollover Pass

The Rollover Pass is seen in an undated aerial photo provided by the Texas General Land Office.

Anglers on Bolivar Peninsula may get a shot at one more flounder run through Rollover Pass.

The Texas General Land Office plans to issue a second request for proposals as it seeks contractors to close the manmade channel between the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Galveston County Commissioner Darrell Apffel said.

The land office had originally planned to begin work filling the pass in June. The request the land office published in March generated only one response from a contractor for about $12 million, Apffel said.

That was much higher than the state estimated the project should cost, he 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 land office will issue another request for bids on the project in July, Apffel said. If the land office receives a bid it can accept, work to fill the pass would start in October at the earliest.

The delay is just the latest speed bump in the efforts to close the waterway

The state wants to close the pass, which it built in 1954, because it causes erosion on Gulf beaches and silting in the intracoastal waterway, officials said. The state spends about $650,000 a year to fix the erosion and more to dredge the canal.

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

Some groups of recreational anglers oppose the closure, arguing the state’s analysis of the pass was flawed. Others, including owners of adjacent property, challenged the state plan in court, arguing eminent domain actions the county used to buy land around the pass were unlawful.

That lawsuit failed, and the county bought 16 acres around the pass in June 2017 for $1.7 million. The last legal appeals over the closure of the pass were settled in April, officials said.

Apffel, whose precinct includes Bolivar Peninsula, was recently briefed on progress of the project and was in contact with state officials overseeing the project.

The land office does not discuss ongoing solicitations in order to preserve the integrity of the bidding process, land office spokeswoman Brittany Eck said Wednesday.

Getting the project moving won’t require any more action by Galveston County, Apffel said.

He said he was pleased people would get one more chance to participate in an annual ritual at the pass.

“It looks like we’re going to get another flounder run out of it,” he said.

The semiannual migration of the fish between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico starts in about October.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(2) comments

Dwight Burns

The price of closure will only rise. Sad to see our fishing," hot",spots disappear one by one.

Jarvis Buckley

Not to worry, Rollover Pass will never be filled in in my opinion. Just a a lot of politically back peddling now that the actual bids are known. Jut my opinion.

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