Padre Island residents feel impact of initial causeway project

It’s the first major project on the JFK Causeway since it was built in 1973, and it’s expected to last the next six months.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The JFK Causeway Project is causing some major headaches for drivers traveling to and from Padre Island.

Phase one of the project is expected to last until Memorial Day next year, meaning added travel times as traffic condenses to just one lane each direction.

It’s the first major project since it was built in 1973. The Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Corpus Christi estimate 32,000 cars travel across it daily. Padre Island Restaurant owner Anthony Tagliaferro hopes this is an eye opener for the City government. 

“There’s only one real major way for us Islanders to get off the Island, and that is the JFK Causeway. We are in need of a second one,” Tagliaferro said. “A lot of the Islanders are hoping that this will open up the City’s eyes to see that the traffic is going to back up during Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, and holidays and stuff like that.”

For Corpus Christi residents like David Wagner, who use the bridge to commute, there’s confusion regarding the need for any construction at all. 

“I haven’t noticed anything wrong with the bridge, per se,” Wagner said. “Maybe it’s a little bumpy on a few sections, but whatever they do they can make it a bit speedier to get by.” 

TxDOT said the plan is to fix the underpinning of the bridge and add a non-slip surface. As for the growing frustration with traffic jams for the next six months, Tagliaferro is optimistic about how bad it will get. 

“Hopefully it won’t. Padre Island’s a beautiful place to be,” Tagliaferro said. “Sitting in traffic for a few minutes isn’t all that bad. I just came across actually a few minutes ago and I just got the best view I’ve ever gotten sitting on top of the bridge for a few minutes. So it was actually kind of nice.” 

With construction beginning this month and scheduled to finish in 2023, commuters can expect traffic delays on the Island for some time, but hope the improvements will make it worth the wait.

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