By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Progress on plans to construct a second causeway connecting South Padre Island to the mainland remains sluggish, but Pete Sepulveda, executive director of the Cameron County Regional Mobile Authority (CCRMA) provided some updates on the project during a recent meeting of the Cameron County Commissioners’ Court.
The biggest news from his update? Motorists who wish to cross the Second Causeway may not have to pay a toll to do so. “More than likely, we will proceed with this project as a non-toll bridge,” Sepulveda told the Commissioners at a Tuesday. Jan. 9 meeting.
“Up to now, we had thought about proceeding with a toll bridge, but more and more, the way things look up in Austin, it will probably make more sense to do it as a non-toll project,” he said.
Adding to the possibility that use of the bridge may be free was the fact that new “value engineering” had reduced the projected cost of the project by almost half — from over $1 billion to just over $550 million. “The value engineering that we did about a year ago presented some good recommendations that we could lower the cost substantially. We could lower mitigation substantially. So, I’m excited,” Sepulveda said.
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