Finding a parking space along Gulf Boulevard on South Padre Island during the busy season can be an exercise in frustration for visitors trying to get to the beach.The situation was exacerbated last year when the City Council passed an ordinance restricting parking on side streets in response to complaints from residential property owners.
More parking is on the way for Gulf Boulevard, however, thanks to a grant from the Texas Coastal Management Program, funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The CMP has tapped the city of South Padre Island for a $150,000 grant to increase the number of parking spaces adjacent to the beach. This will be done by taking advantage of a 75-foot right of way on Gulf Boulevard that’s never been completely used to its full width.
The money is part of $1.75 million in grants for 21 separate projects along the Texas coast that the CMP announced last month. Reuben Trevino, the city’s coastal resource manager, said Gulf Boulevard is only 40 feet wide or so, leaving plenty of unused right of way along some stretches that could accommodate head-in or diagonal parking spaces — a more efficient use of space than parallel parking, which is still the norm on most of the boulevard.
Some improvements already have been made. Last summer the city put in paved and striped diagonal parking on the west side of Gulf Boulevard for several blocks, Trevino said. The $300,000 project resulted in a net gain of 87 spaces and largely solved the problem of people parking on the grass in the vicinity of the Wanna-Wanna, a beachfront hotel, bar and restaurant, he said.
As a follow-up, Trevino applied for $150,000 from CMP for more parking improvements along the road. South Padre Island is required to put up matching funds of $171,886, for a total project cost of $321,886. The project is slated to begin this fall when CMP releases the money, Trevino said. The plan is to eventually transform parking along all of Gulf Boulevard, which parallels the beach for 2.7 miles from East Haas Street to East Sunset Drive. In the meantime, the city is considering funding another parking-improvement phase this year, even before the CMP funds become available, Trevino said.
State law requires one parking space for every 15 linear feet of “closed beach,” or beach not open to private vehicles.“Basically it’s redesigning parking to make better use of the space that actually belongs to the public,” Trevino said.
Another CMP grant for $150,000, with a $150,000 match from the city, will go to improving beach access for law enforcement, emergency and maintenance vehicles while offering protection for the dune they cross over. Essentially it involves building a concrete driveway similar to one that was built in 2005 in the 4600 block of Gulf Boulevard. The new driveway will be built at Beach Circle, roughly 1,000 feet north of an existing, non-paved access point at Harbor Street. That will make two paved access points for the Island. The other access points for emergency vehicles feature “Mobi-Mats,” temporary roadways made of a woven polymer material laid down to protect the dunes while giving vehicles something to drive on. “We like to keep two main points of access, then have a couple more as options,” Trevino said. The point of concrete driveways and Mobi-Mats is to keep the dunes from eroding, Trevino said. Vehicle tires and pedestrians kick up the sand, allowing it to blow away and discouraging the growth of vegetation, he said. Inside the city limits, pedestrian access points feature narrow Mobi-Mats.
Weakened dunes, meanwhile, mean less protection for private property and public infrastructure against storm surges. Dune erosion is visible on the Island at condos that don’t have walkovers, Trevino said.“The vegetation is a huge piece of the puzzle that holds it all together,” he said.
This article is provided via Island takes parking head on – Brownsville Herald: Local News.