Work on boardwalks underway at preserve



Workers piece together a new boardwalk near a part of the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture that’s near the foot of Port Street. The work was underway on Monday, April 25. A new boardwalk also is being built at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. Staff photo by Dan Parker

Workers piece together a new boardwalk near a part of the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture that’s near the foot of Port Street. The work was underway on Monday, April 25. A new boardwalk also is being built at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. Staff photo by Dan Parker

Work on three features at The Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture to restore them to their pre-Hurricane Harvey condition, and then some, has started, said Rae Mooney, preserve manager.

The features include:

• a boardwalk at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center,

• rebuilding the south trail off State Highway 361 (between Palladium Port Aransas and Port A RV Resort) that will connect to the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center and

• a loop trail at Charlie’s Pasture north off of Port Street near the pavilion.

Public use of the preserve will be impacted during some of the work.

The south entrance on State Highway 361 is closed and parking is reduced at the north entrance because some of that area is being used for staging, Mooney said. The birding center and Charlie’s Pasture North on Port Street should remain open with some potential for restricted access at some times, she added.

A boardwalk was built at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center after the hurricane, but it did not follow the footprint of the original boardwalk. Instead, it veers off to the left, Mooney said. The new boardwalk will follow the same footprint as the original. The observation tower will be lower than the pre-Harvey tower, but the same height as the tower on the existing boardwalk, Mooney said. It will be accessible by a ramp so that it will be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

This area shows boardwalks and trails at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture. The red lines represent trails or boardwalks that are being rebuilt after damage by Hurricane Harvey. Work began on April 1. The green trails are existing trails, and the pink trails represent future projects. FEMA is paying for 90 percent of the work. Courtesy, City of Port Aransas

This area shows boardwalks and trails at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture. The red lines represent trails or boardwalks that are being rebuilt after damage by Hurricane Harvey. Work began on April 1. The green trails are existing trails, and the pink trails represent future projects. FEMA is paying for 90 percent of the work. Courtesy, City of Port Aransas

Also, she said, pilings will be driven deeper than the original structure, and flow-through decking that is more resilient in a storm surge will be installed. Another advantage of the flow-through decking is that it lets more light through, which is good for vegetation below, Mooney said.

All that, including the upgrades, are being paid for by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Rebuilding the south trail of State Highway 361 will move the preserve a step closer to its goal of connecting all the trails, Mooney said. That trail ends in a paved road that is low and subject to flooding. In the next phase, a boardwalk will be built over that road to provide connectivity even when the road is wet or it floods.

The third project will connect an existing trail off Port Street.

A trail that will go through the Port Street subdivision, around the Channel Vista subdivision and over to the Port Aransas Community Park will be built within the next year, Mooney said.

That project will involve the purchase of six lots in the Port Street subdivision to expand the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond nature preserve. Another component of the project, Mooney said, is to create trails that connect Paradise Pond to the community park.

The Port Aransas City Council earlier this year selected SR Trident out of Portland to rebuild the boardwalks and trails at a cost of $4,994,554.72.

Work began April 1 and expected to be completed in 180 calendar days.

FEMA will pay for 90 percent of the work, the State of Texas will pick up 75 percent of that balance and the city will pay for the remainder.

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