Galveston Causeway

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George & Cynthia Mitchell Memorial Causeway
Old Causeway, Galveston.jpg
The old 1912 Galveston Causeway, now in use as a railroad bridge.
Coordinates 29°17′45″N 94°53′10″W / 29.2958°N 94.8861°W / 29.2958; -94.8861Coordinates: 29°17′45″N 94°53′10″W / 29.2958°N 94.8861°W / 29.2958; -94.8861
Carries Rail (old causeway)
I-45 (new causeway)
Crosses Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Galveston Bay
Locale Galveston, Texas
United States
Official name George & Cynthia Mitchell Memorial Causeway
Maintained by Texas Department of Transportation
Engineering design by Concrete Steel Engineering Co.
Constructed by Penn Bridge Co.
Opened 1912 (1912) (original causeway)
Galveston Causeway
Galveston Causeway is located in Texas
Galveston Causeway
Galveston Causeway is located in the US
Galveston Causeway
Coordinates 29°17′45″N 94°53′10″W / 29.2957934°N 94.8861265°W / 29.2957934; -94.8861265Coordinates: 29°17′45″N 94°53′10″W / 29.2957934°N 94.8861265°W / 29.2957934; -94.8861265
Area 39 acres (16 ha)
NRHP reference # 76002028[1]
Added to NRHP December 12, 1976

The George & Cynthia Mitchell Memorial Causeway is a set of causeways in Galveston, Texas, United States. Two of the routes carry the southbound and northbound traffic of Interstate 45, while the original causeway is restricted to rail traffic. It is the main roadway access point to Galveston Island. The second access point is Bolivar Ferry.

The causeway carries traffic over Galveston Bay and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The original causeway was built in 1912 and carried both rail and auto traffic. The auto traffic was transferred to new causeways built to the west in 1939, leaving the original bridge for rail traffic. The original route was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Rebuilding in 2003

New Galveston Causeway bridge under construction in 2007

Construction of replacement bridges for both auto routes began in 2003 with completion of the new northbound bridge in 2005. The construction of a new southbound bridge began in 2006, however Hurricane Ike delayed completion until November 2008.[2][3]

2008 Hurricane damage

In September 2008, the causeway flooded well before Hurricane Ike, due to the tremendous storm surge created by the very wide storm. This is in contrast to a typical hurricane, which would cause the closure of the causeway due to wind before surge. As of the early afternoon on September 13, 12 hours after official landfall, the causeway was blocked by numerous watercraft.

Railroad drawbridge replacement

The old bascule bridge in its raised position.
A barge passing under the new lift span on the railroad causeway, with the 2008-opened new causeway for road vehicles visible at left.
The old bascule span now in Petaluma, CA. It was repainted to match the theme color for the commuter train seen here. The taller bridge in the background is US 101.

In 2012, the old bascule-type drawbridge on the railroad causeway was removed and replaced with a vertical-lift-type drawbridge, allowing the navigation channel through the draw span to be widened. In 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard had declared the old span's narrow passageway to be a hazard to navigation. It was only 105 feet (32 m) wide, whereas the replacement vertical-lift span allowed the channel to be widened to about 300 feet (91 m).[4] The old bridge was sold to Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit to be installed on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in Petaluma, California to cross the Petaluma River.[5]


The causeway was re-dedicated in honor of George Mitchell and his wife Cynthia Woods-Mitchell on Tuesday October 25, 2016 to honor their contributions to the island and City of Galveston.[6]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Paschenko, Chris (October 21, 2008). Causeway should be open by November Galveston County Daily News. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  3. ^ Paschenko, Chris (November 6, 2008). Still some delays after new causeway opens, Galveston County Daily News. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  4. ^ "Galveston Causeway Bridge replacement gains federal funding" (Press release). U.S. Representative Gene Green. June 19, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ "SMART to buy a (draw)bridge". Santa Rosa Press Democrat. 
  6. ^ [1]

External links

  • City of Galveston Thoroughfare Plan - Transportation access to Galveston planning

Media related to Galveston Causeway at Wikimedia Commons

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