A resident in Cameron County is questioning why one road in their neighborhood was shut down for months before construction even started.
Emmanuel Molina of Cameron County Pct. 2 said he uses Old Port Isabel Rd. because it’s a quick way to the highway, but his commute to and from work is taking longer than usual due to the closure.
“I want to say about 10-15 minutes more than usual, so I had to wake up earlier, get there with more time especially [with] traffic in the morning,” said Molina. “Because we have schools, we have more people going to their jobs.”
According to Cameron County Pct. 2 Commissioner, Joey Lopez, a truck took out the Old Port Isabel Bridge railing and because the bridge was made from wood, it was deemed unsafe after the accident.
“The frustrating part of it was at the beginning we didn’t know the bridge was closed,” said Molina. “We would have to get here, make a U-Turn and go all the way over there [and] around.”
Molina said the road was closed about six months ago, but a sign posted by the Cameron County Public Works Department at the construction site advised the public that improvements for the bridge didn’t begin until the week of November 4.
Lopez said the delay was because they were waiting for a response from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on whether they would be able to fund the repairs.
“I tried at first to get money from TxDOT for the bridge and the thing on getting money from TxDOT, the bridge has to be 20 feet long, it was seven feet on one side and 18 feet on the other side,” explained Lopez. “So, it didn’t qualify for any funding from TxDOT, so basically, the county had to come up with the money to get it replaced.”
Lopez said they also had to find a contractor.
“The first price was pretty high, so we had to try to negotiate a price to bring the cost down, so it was the end of our fiscal year,” said Lopez. “There was only a certain amount of funds left in my budget, so we had to go ahead and try to negotiate a price.”
The county is also looking for insurance funds from the driver to defray some of the costs.
Lopez said notices were handed to residents in the immediate area about the construction, but because Molina lives in a further subdivision, he did not receive it.
The commissioner adds that the bridge should be ready for use by mid-January and is costing about $300,000, which doesn’t include the labor.