PORT ARTHUR — The storm ravaged north levee road officially reopened on Friday nearly two years after Hurricane Ike tore through Pleasure Island.
The 5.5 mile stretch of road is now paved and covered with asphalt, a far cry from the washed out road filled with boats and debris as it looked in September 2008.
Both the north and south levee roads were temporarily closed in the fall of 2009 so contractors could remove storm debris, replace culverts and water control structures, and raise and rebuild the roadways.
The original contract for both roads came in at $14.9 million but with modifications the cost is now about $16 million, Richard Whitmore, resident engineer with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Port Arthur office, said.
Several days after the storm struck the coast, the corps drove out and took note of the damage. Both the north and the south roads took a beating from the waves and storm surge, exposing the base of the roads. Chunks of asphalt, up to a foot tall, stood in the roadways and deep potholes added to the problem.
New rock has been added for shore protection and the road itself is paved asphalt, he said.
The boat ramp at the far end of the levee road was not replaced, Whitmore said, because the road's new elevation is too high, “but you can still fish off of it.”
The north road's two fishing piers were destroyed during the hurricane but will be rebuilt by next spring or summer, Jimmy Dyke, director of the Pleasure Island Commission, said. The project will be funded at 90 percent by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
The two piers on the south levee road will not be rebuilt, though. The south road will be at a higher elevation and will not have an area for visitors to park, he said.
Work on the south levee road is ongoing and will possibly reopen in Spring 2011.
Whitmore said he is glad the repairs have been made but hopes the area stays clean. In the past there have been issues with people dumping trash and vandalizing the stretch of land and waterway.
The isolated area, while fruitful for outdoorsmen and families, had become a spot for people to dump, and burn, old tires and such. A burning tire can cause extensive damage to the new asphalt as well as being costly, he added.
“I hope they have better respect this time or we will shut it down,” he said.
Amber Giles of Nederland fishes on the first day of North Levee Road being back open Friday on