The Future of South Padre Island by rraul


									                            The Future of South Padre Island
                                 On A Second Causeway

The collapse of a section of the Queen Isabella Causeway in September 2001 underscored what
many South Padre Islanders have been saying for years – the Island needs an alternate
access to the mainland. It is time for all South Padre Island residents and property owners
to stand together and support efforts to have a new causeway built to the mainland.

   ♦      Why do we need a second causeway?

   ♦      Safety Reasons – A hurricane heading toward South Padre Island will necessitate
          evacuation of the Island. It is important that this evacuation is done with the least
          congestion on outgoing arteries and is done with the utmost speed. To accomplish
          both of these, we need an additional route off the Island.

   ♦      Bridge Closure – The Queen Isabella Causeway is frequently closed due to
          accidents resulting in substantial inconveniences to both residents and visitors.

   ♦      Traffic Congestion – Spring break and summer fireworks displays bring gridlock to
          the Causeway. Wrecks on the bridge can shut down traffic for long periods of time.
          A new bridge would give South Padre Island and visitors from the mainland a choice
          for travel and help to alleviate these traffic snarls.

   ♦      Access to doctors and hospitals – A new bridge will afford options to decrease
          length of travel to medical care, especially during busy traffic times on the Island.
          Delays caused by traffic congestion can turn an emergency into a life and death

   ♦      Increased Tourism – Easier access to South Padre Island will generate more
          visitors to the Island, especially if it cuts the travel time to South Padre Island from
          other parts of the Rio Grande Valley and points north in Texas. Visitors to South
          Padre Island have many options for resort travel and unless we address our traffic
          and access problems, they will go elsewhere.

Why should we support a bridge located north of the Town of South Padre Island

   ♦      While no specific north location has been identified by the Town of South Padre
          Island, it makes sense locating a new bridge north of the town.
  ♦     Texas Department of Transportation, in a previous feasibility study identified a
        location approximately three miles north of town, as being the most feasible
        location; this was endorsed by South Padre Island.

  ♦     Almost all proposals being advanced for a new bridge call for it to be a toll bridge.
        The Wilbur Smith Feasibility Study done by the South Padre Island Economic
        Development Corporation shows that a toll bridge built north of town would be

  ♦     A north bridge would allow evacuation traffic a less congested and faster route
        inland to escape hurricanes.

  ♦     A north bridge would allow traffic coming from Harlingen and points north an
        alternate route and ease congestion on the present Causeway.

  ♦     A north location that connects directly to Harlingen should increase air travelers
        coming to South Padre Island via the Harlingen Airport.

  ♦     A north bridge location would give South Padre Island residents better and faster
        access to hospitals and medical care.

  ♦     The future of South Padre Island depends upon improved access to the mainland,
        which can only be accomplished by locating the new bridge north of the town.

How much will a new bridge cost and how much will it cost South Padre Island

  ♦     Cost of New Bridge – Depending on location, a new bridge to South Padre Island
        has been estimated to cost anywhere from $20 to $120 million.

  ♦     State-Funded Bridge – State highway officials estimate it will be a minimum of 10
        years and more likely 20 years before state funds are available to build a new state-
        funded bridge to the Island.

  ♦     Toll Bridge – The most feasible way to have a new bridge built in the near future
        to South Padre Island is by the creation of a Regional Mobility Authority in Cameron
        County to build a toll bridge to the Island. State funds and tolls collected from the
        bridge would be used to repay revenue bonds issued by the Regional Mobility

  ♦     Cost to South Padre Island Residents – A bridge built with revenue bonds by a
        Regional Mobility Authority would cost South Padre Island and its taxpayers nothing
        except the tolls they would pay to use the bridge.

What will be the economic development effect of a new bridge?

   ♦     New Construction – A new north bridge will spur new construction of hotels,
         restaurants, and retail establishments on the north side of South Padre Island.

   ♦     New Jobs – This construction will create new jobs for Port Isabel and South Padre
         Island residents in hotels, restaurants, and retail establishments in the area. Not
         only will construction jobs be created but also long lasting jobs in the new
         establishments that are built.

   ♦     Tax Base – New ad valorem tax revenue will be brought to the Island from the new
         establishments that are built. The new establishments will also generate new sales
         tax revenue, occupancy tax revenue and mixed beverage tax revenue.

Why is any new bridge located south or in close proximity to the present Causeway
not feasible?

   ♦     Most people involved in early discussions concerning a new bridge feel the only way
         construction in the near future is possible is to have the new bridge a toll facility. A
         toll facility located next to a free facility would never be used in non-congested times
         and would therefore not be able to be financed.

   ♦     During an evacuation, two bridges funneling through Port Isabel would cause
         horrible gridlock during a crisis period.

   ♦      A north bridge location will not hurt Port Isabel’s economy; and would actually
         assist by providing people easier access to shop and patronize their restaurants and
         other businesses.

   ♦     A causeway located south of the Town of South Padre Island would increase traffic
         congestion rather than relieve it.

   ♦     The future of South Padre Island depends upon improved access to the mainland,
         which cannot be accomplished if the new bridge is built south of Town.

For questions, please contact the office of the South Padre Island Economic
Development Corporation at 956-761-4522.


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