Author Topic: Bridging the gap over new Pelican Island span proves tricky  (Read 348 times)

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Online Elderberry

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Bridging the gap over new Pelican Island span proves tricky
« on: December 10, 2018, 07:44:29 AM »
Houston Chronicle  Nick Powell Dec. 6, 2018

Once viewed as inevitable, a long-discussed plan to build a $91 million bridge to replace a drawbridge that connects Pelican Island and Galveston is now in limbo.

The Pelican Island Bridge replacement, which has been in the works since 2013, had looked to be on the path toward a funding agreement as recently as spring.

Then the city of Galveston walked away from the project, questioning the commitment of the Galveston County Navigation District No. 1, which owns and operates the current bridge, to maintain the new structure. Finger-pointing between city officials and the navigation district ensued, and now the future of the bridge proposal is uncertain — roughly $26 million short of the necessary funds to build it. Local officials are hoping for a lifeline in the form of an $18 million funding request placed with the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

At the heart of the disagreement is the future of the navigation district itself, a small local tax entity with an annual budget of about $2 million whose sole purpose is owning and operating the current Pelican Island Bridge. A district employee now operates a drawbridge that uses a beam or truss deck that can be raised to an incline or vertical position, allowing vessels to pass underneath.

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough said the city understands the navigation district’s hesitance to commit to owning and operating the new bridge, given that the local sponsor would be primarily responsible for cost overruns. But he added that unless the Texas Department of Transportation agrees to take ownership — unlikely, for now — it makes sense for the navigation district to continue in that role.

“I don’t want to put the blame on anybody,” Yarbrough said. “At issue is, what’s the navigation district’s role in this? Obviously putting money up is part of it. There are some that say they own the current bridge and they ought to be the fiscal agent and they ought to be the local sponsor for a new bridge. And to me, common sense says that’s legitimate.”

Dennis Byrd, the chairman of the navigation district, disagrees. Byrd has concerns about the district becoming the primary local sponsor of the new bridge, reasoning that the proposal — a conventional 75-foot span with four lanes, as well as pedestrian and bicycle crossings — would no longer require a human operator.


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Offline thackney

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Re: Bridging the gap over new Pelican Island span proves tricky
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 08:23:17 AM »

New bridge seen as 'game changer' for Galveston, Pelican Island
April 29, 2016
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Offline IsailedawayfromFR

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Re: Bridging the gap over new Pelican Island span proves tricky
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2018, 10:37:16 AM »
Smells like a union move to save the drawbridge operator's job.
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