Bomb threat closes Causeway on eve of collapse anniversary

Texas DPS officers at the Port Isabel base of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway after a bomb threat was called into the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Photo by Gaige Davila.


Editor’s note: This is a developing story. 

By Gaige Davila

UPDATE: The Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway has reopened following a bomb threat that closed both lanes and left people in both Port Isabel and South Padre Island in traffic for several hours. The Causeway was reopened around 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

The Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway has been closed after an anonymous caller made a bomb threat against it.

Port Isabel Police Department (PIPD) Chief Robert Lopez told the PRESS a person called Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and said there was a bomb on the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway. The call was forwarded to South Padre Island Police Department, who then notified PIPD. The call was made just before 8 p.m.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) ordered the Causeway to close around 8:30 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard, DPS, and the Texas Department of Transportation are currently surveying the bridge. Brownsville Police Department ‘s (BPD) bomb squad responded and are surveying the Causeway with a drone. Cameron County Sheriff’s Office responded to manage traffic congested through Highway 100.  Cameron County Park Rangers also responded to the threat.

Texas DPS SUVs block traffic on Tarnava Street after a bomb threat was made against the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway. Photo by Gaige Davila.

In a video posted to the City of Port Isabel’s Facebook page, City Manager Jared Hockema said the bridge would like reopen between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Sept. 15.

The threat comes just hours before the nineteenth anniversary of the Causeway’s collapse on Sept. 15, 2001, when a barge collided with a supporting column of the Causeway just after 2 a.m., causing a 160-to-180-foot section of the bridge to collapse into the bay below. Nine cars drove into the water, killing eight people, including then-Port Isabel Fire Chief Robert Harris.

In the same video, Hockema said there was no indication that the anniversary and the threat were related.

“I hope it’s just a cruel coincidence,” Hockema said. “It’s obviously an event that’s etched into our minds. Still raw for so many of us.”

At 11 a.m., a memorial ceremony will be held at the Port Isabel base of the Causeway for the 19th anniversary of the Causeway’s collapse.

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