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Plans for second causeway in the works

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The Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority says plans to build a second causeway are underway.  

The environmental phase of the project began three or four months ago and could take anywhere between two to three years to complete.

Cameron County RMA is the lead on the project and started working on the environmental phase back in 2009, but work was put on hold a couple of years later because the Texas Department of Transportation changed its policy.

"The reason that we stopped work is because we were using TxDOT funding for the development of the environmental phase and they changed their policies on toll projects, so we had to put a stop to that," said Cameron County RMA Executive Director Pete Sepulveda.

The RMA is now using local funds to help support this part of the project, which has a cost of $3.5 million. Sepulveda says the environmental phase includes route and design studies, social, economic, and environmental studies.

"We're going through over the Laguna Madre,” Sepulveda said. “It's a very environmentally sensitive area and so there's a lot of mitigation that needs to be taken into account."

Sepulveda says the future site of the second causeway will have drivers gain access to the second bridge through the Laguna Madre area and will exit one mile north of Cameron County Beach Access No. 5.

Currently, the RMA doesn’t have any money appropriated for the construction part of the project, which could cost between $450 million to $500 million. The RMA will be working with TxDOT to help look for funding opportunities.

"It's important that we provide the access that's needed to be able to keep up with the growth and population that we're experiencing right now and that we're going to experience in the future," Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda says at some point, they plan to have a public meeting for people to be able to make comments or suggestions on the second causeway.

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