Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Queen Isabella Causeway to Re-Open Before Thanksgiving

Repairs To Only South Padre Island Link Completed Ahead of Schedule

Wednesday, November 14, 2001  •  Press Release

AUSTIN - Governor Rick Perry announced today that the Queen Isabella Causeway - the only link between South Padre Island and the Texas mainland - is expected to officially re-open before Thanksgiving, a month ahead of the December 23rd completion date called for in the original repair contract signed in September. The causeway was left severely damaged with several sections of the structure missing following a barge accident on September 15.

Governor Perry expects to attend Queen Isabella Causeway re-opening ceremonies in the near future. He applauded the work of the Texas Department of Transportation, Williams Brothers construction, and state leaders like Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff, Senator Eddie Lucio, and Representatives Jim Solis and Rene Oliveira, who helped restore transportation to and from South Padre Island and supported completing the job a full month ahead of the anticipated completion date.

"I'm very proud of TxDOT and our highway workers who have done what many thought impossible - repair the severely damaged Queen Isabella Causeway in less than 75 days," said Perry. "This vital link between South Padre Island and the Texas mainland will soon be restored, allowing tourists, residents, and business people easy access to one of Texas' most beautiful communities. Everyone involved in the effort to repair the bridge can now turn their full attention to helping South Padre Island and surrounding areas recover from the economic shock the bridge collapse created."

Perry noted that the collapse of the Queen Isabella Causeway has had a serious economic impact on businesses and communities located within the Rio Grande Valley. Retail trade and services on both sides of the bridge - such as hotels, restaurants and retail stores - suffered from a shortened tourist season brought about by the bridge collapse.

"With the quick bridge repair, South Padre Island will soon be fully open for business," Perry continued. "I urge Texas citizens, visitors and business groups to visit, vacation and convention in South Padre Island. By doing so, they'll not only be enjoying a crown jewel of the Texas coastline, they'll be helping a vital part of our state recover from a true tragedy."

On September 20, Perry issued a Disaster Declaration that cleared the way for the Federal Highway Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to share cost of repairing the Queen Isabella Causeway on an 80 percent federal-20 percent state basis. The federal government also paid 100 percent of the cost of restoring essential traffic, such as establishing ferry service, for 180 days following the tragedy.

In addition, the Small Business Administration (SBA) activated its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program in September for businesses in Cameron County and contiguous counties negatively affected by the bridge collapse. That activation came after Perry requested assistance from the SBA.

Immediately following the bridge collapse on Sept. 15, the state dispatched crews and rescue teams to the location. The Texas Department of Public Safety had divers working the scene along with State troopers and a DPS helicopter. TxDOT provided a ferry to transport citizens from the island and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also provided boats and barges. The Texas Army National Guard provided a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and the General Land Office provided an airboat.

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