PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

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July 1, 2013

McFaddin Beach-goers bemoan lack of upkeep

(Continued)

SABINE PASS — ‘We’re in the preliminary stages’

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick has little hope that McFaddin Beach will ever register on TxDOT radar again, but he is hopeful that progress can be made without their aid. The county has received a “patchwork of funding” — $3.2 million from United States Fisheries and Wildlife, $5 million from Round 2 of Hurricane Ike funding, and several hundred thousand from Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act (CEPRA).

“We're in the preliminary stages, so I'm hopeful that it's going to become a reality,” Branick said.

Branick has taken some steps. He recently traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., to meet with the head of the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife, who has expressed support of a roadway. He has also met with the RESTORE Act Council in Galveston, which is comprised of the governors of the five Gulf states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“If the beach road is ever going to happen, it’s going to have to be through innovative financing,” Branick said. He cited toll roads or tax increment reinvestment zones as examples.

Sinegal estimated construction on the road zone would take two years to complete, bringing with it between 500 and 1,000 jobs to Jefferson County. Making it a toll road would generate still more revenue. More importantly, he said, the citizens of Sabine Pass would benefit. They would no longer be at the mercy of emergency management in the event of an unforeseen disaster — such as an oil spill at Valero or Chevron — and the town would regain some footing it lost in Ike’s aftermath.

“Only the heart of the people have kept them on the map,” Sinegal said. “Some you would have to threaten to murder before they left. I’m proud to say they’re in my community.”

‘I’d rather be here with the seaweed’

In the meantime, private groups of people will be the only source of maintenance on McFaddin Beach. Fortunately some people, like Lance Bridges, are willing to brave the seaweed and trash. The Nederland man said he prefers McFaddin to the heavily patrolled Crystal Beach.

“You either go south and get to the green water, or you tough it out here,” Bridges said. “I’d rather be here with the seaweed than at home.”

He pointed to a faint glimmer of deep blue water on the horizon.

“Plus, if you go 100 yards out, you can see a green line.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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