Feasibility and necessity of Beach Road reconstruction back in local spotlight; town hall planned

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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SABINE PASS — Should an emergency occur in Sabine Pass, either weather- or industrial-related, there is only one way in and one way out.

That was not always the case.

Texas 87 once ran from Sabine Pass to High Island before being damaged by Hurricane Allen in 1980. By 1989 the highway was permanently shut down, though some vehicles made, or tried to make, the trip.

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Then along came Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008, which destroyed the highway roadbed further.

Leaders have tried several times to look into the feasibility of rebuilding what is locally known as the Beach Road, but the results were not favorable.


The Sabine Pass Port Authority was notified of a U.S. Department of Transportation grant that could help the issue.

The Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient and Cost-saving Transportation Program (PROTECT) is under the bipartisan infrastructure law and “provides funding to ensure surface transportation resilience to natural hazards including climate change, sea level rise, flooding, extreme weather events and other natural disasters through support of planning activities, resilience improvements, community resilience and evacuation routes, and at-risk coastal infrastructure,” according to U.S. DoT.

The program offers two types of grant awards: planning events and competitive resilience improvement grants. The deadline to submit the grant is Aug. 18.

Since the grant for planning is 100 percent paid, no matching funds are required.

Sabine Pass Port Authority is hosting an in-person public meeting to share information and gather input on a study to assess the feasibility of reconstructing Texas 87. The meeting will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. July 27 at Sabine Pass Independent School District, 5641 S. Gulfway Drive.

Port Authority Director Mark Viator said the main reason for the push for reconstruction of the road is for the safety of the residents of Sabine Pass.

There are a number of industrial sites in Sabine Pass, as well as across the ship channel on the Louisiana side.

“We need another way out instead of one way in and one way out,” Viator said, referring to the one road that can be used for emergencies.

Jefferson County Commissioner Michael “Shane” Sinegal has long been an advocate of reconstructing Beach Road.

“It’s one of my bucket list items,” Sinegal said. “Before I leave this office or leave this earth, I’d like to see this road reconstructed.”

Sinegal said his grandson attends Sabine Pass High School and drives the highway. Sinegal worries for his safety, as well as the safety of the children and parents, residents and workers of Sabine Pass. He called safety his no. 1 priority.

Viator said there are other issues to consider such as the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. The sensitive ecosystem is being damaged by saltwater intrusion at a much higher level than anticipated. If the saltwater intrusion continues and the degradation of the marsh proceeds to the intracostal canal, there would be a considerably higher cost to reconstruct the canal. That cost is estimated at more than $8 million per mile, according to information from the port authority.

There is also the issue of disadvantaged communities not having access to visit or experience the beach and the Wildlife Refuge, he said.

“We want to protect McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and give the citizens of Sabine Pass a second way in and out,” Viator said. “And also utilize the road for tourism. The natural resources whether the marsh or the beach so the citizens can enjoy them and not have to drive all the way around to Crystal Beach, when they can easily enjoy the beach in our backyard.”


Viator said it is important to gain support from stakeholders and he anticipates working with a number of agencies to make the road reconstruction happen.

There would eventually be three counties involved; Jefferson, a portion of Chambers County and a portion of Galveston County.

“This is truly a project that will require local, state and federal agencies to work together to accomplish the goal that is beneficial from a safety standpoint as well as a quality of life standpoint,” he said.

The key for the success of the grant is building a coalition of supporters, he said. This includes businesses, chamber of commerce, residents, school district, county leaders, tourists and many more.