News coming late last week that the Texas Department of Transportation plans to soon begin a major reconstruction project along FM 3005 is a mixed blessing for people who depend on that road, which is the only land link to the island’s busy West End.
On one hand, the project might improve the long running problem of 3005 flooding enough to become impassable during even relatively minor storms.
That has been a serious public safety problem for many years and it’s good the state has come up with a plan and a considerable amount of money to address the problem.
On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine how to pull off a project of this scope along a two-lane road without creating a traffic nightmare, especially on summer weekends when thousands of people head to their second homes, beach rental houses and popular day-trip spots.
Under the state’s plan, Galveston’s West End highway will be repaved and raised by more than a foot as part of a $35 million project that might start this year, the Texas Department of Transportation confirmed Thursday.
The project to raise FM 3005 might begin as soon as the end of this month and will take up to two and a half years to complete, a transportation department spokesman said.
The work will be done in three phases.
During the first phase, crews will install new drainage systems and traffic signals along the road.
During the second phase, they will raise the elevation of the road from 6 feet to 7 1/2 feet.
The third phase calls for adding a new overlay of pavement, signs and stripes along the highway.
The project will run the entire 18.7-mile length of the road between the San Luis Pass and the western end of the Galveston seawall.
The transportation department awarded the contract for the project to Angel Brothers, a Baytown-based contractor.
The goal of the project is to ensure the highway, which is not protected by a seawall, remains as a safe passage during coastal storms.
“The project is needed to help keep high water off the roadway,” Perez said.
The highway is the only evacuation route off the West End during a hurricane and its vulnerability to tidal flooding has been of concern to West End residents and visitors for years.
People living out that way frequently have had to evacuate before it was clear that doing so was necessary to avoid being trapped, just for one example.
This is a much needed project that will provide clear long-term public benefit for a relatively modest public investment.
But it’s likely to cause some short-term pain and suffering for people living, doing business and visiting one of the island’s most popular areas.
• Michael A. Smith