Preparations underway for second causeway
Local leaders continue to push for a second causeway in Port Isabel to connect to South Padre Island.
The idea isn't new - the initial work towards the project started 10 years ago. Steps toward the project included holding town halls to working on an environmental impact phase that actually saw the initial $800 million project estimate cut in half.
The plan was for tolls to help pay the public/private construction of the causeway.
"We thought we had made a lot of progress in the environmental phase,” Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority Executive Director Pete Sepulveda said. “But then in December 2017, TxDOT placed the project on hold because there was a change in the policy towards toll projects."
After lobbying for state funding the 2021 legislative session with no luck, Cameron County, the Regional Mobility Authority and South Padre Island started taking matters into their own hands.
They are starting with another environmental report that could take more than two years to complete.
"But during that time frame maybe we can convince TxDOT that they can be our partner and they can look at funding the engineering phase which would be the next phase after the environmental,” Sepulveda said. “And then eventually look at funding the project the traditional TxDOT method."
Sepulveda says the increase in visitors would mean more tax revenue locally and for the state, but the bridge would also serve another purpose as an evacuation route.
Sepulveda says this won't be something that happens overnight. If timing falls just right - this project could take another five to six years before they start construction on the bridge.
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