The remnants of Hurricane Harvey still linger in Port Lavaca, but one of the city’s main attractions, the Formosa Wetlands Walkway, is nearing completion.
BLS Construction Inc., out of El Campo, is working on the last 300 feet on the north end of the walkway to the Alcoa Bird Tower, according to Port Lavaca City Engineer Jody Weaver.
The bird tower required only minor repairs, completed several weeks ago. Weaver said the plan is for the walkway to be open soon after the final inspection, scheduled for Dec 16.
Formosa Plastics has been vital in the rebuild of the walkway with a generous donation of $200,000, which Weaver said is more than enough to cover the required city’s matching funds on the FEMA Public Assistance grant received for the project.
The city has spent $118,450 on engineering, and FEMA has already reimbursed the city 90 percent of that cost. According to Weaver, the construction contract is $1,246,00, of which the city has paid about $560,000. She added that when the project is complete, FEMA will reimburse the city 90 percent of eligible costs, which she said should be almost all the cost.
The walkway is being built utilizing recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and fiberglass lumber called Fiber® Force and manufactured by Bedford Technology using plastic pellets manufactured at the Formosa plant.
“This is the present-day commercially available product, equivalent to what was used when the walkway was first constructed,” Weaver said.
She explained that the deck boards and most of the support structure were not damaged and are still original construction, except for a few areas that were significantly damaged or destroyed, which were rebuilt.
The handrails, which go along the entire walkway, are new and have been constructed using 4x4 upright support for added strength and additional horizontal mid-rails to meet current fall protection codes.
“Fiber® Force comes in a variety of colors. Although they manufacture the original color that was used to build the walkway, it has lightened up with the sun exposure over the years, so we chose a lighter color to better match the deck that was not being replaced,” added Weaver to give an overall picture of the walkway.
Since it was constructed, the walkway has played a vital role in the community, and the demand for the city to get it built has been overwhelming.
“Reading comments on the city’s Facebook page since the walkway has been down, it’s clear to see that it is the highlight of the visit to Port Lavaca for many as well as a beloved amenity for those who call Port Lavaca home,” Weaver said.
The city recently approved construction for the Lighthouse Beach Pavilion and playground to be rebuilt and replaced. Making progress from damages by Hurricane Harvey does not happen overnight, but the city is doing what it can to bring Lighthouse Beach back to normalcy.