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A bumpy, historic stretch of a former highway in Brownsville is in line for a total rebuild as part of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), with work likely commencing the second quarter of fiscal year 2024.
The design phase for the Old Highway 77 rehabilitation project is underway and should be finished by late October, according to Engineering and Public Works Director Doroteo Garcia Jr.
U.S. 77 was the main north-south route in and out of town before the expressway was built and was ceded to the city more than 50 years ago, he said.
The makeover will involve two miles of roadway between Farm-to-Market Road 802 and Morrison Road that has been in bad shape for many years and will involve a full street reconstruction and addition of a center turn lane to Old Highway 77, Garcia said.
“We’re going to remove the existing roadway,” he said. “The concrete road will be removed. It’ll likely be lowered a little bit, just because that’s a rural cross section and we’re going to urbanize it. We’re going to have a curb and gutter. We’re going to have sidewalk. The idea is to have 10-foot-wide trail on one side and a 5-foot sidewalk on the other.”
The hike-and-bike trail will be on the business (east) side of the road and the sidewalk on the residential side, Garcia said. Depending on the contractor’s estimate, the city might build one or the other, he said.
“They’re both going to happen,” Garcia said. “They both will be completed by the end of the project.”
Once the design phase is complete the city will go out for bids, probably in November or December, he said. Once the project starts it’s expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete, Garcia said, adding that economic development is a key reason for the makeover — the biggest single project on the department’s plate currently.
“That’s the primary reason we’re doing it,” he said. “Right now the city is in a heavy economic growth compared to where we’ve been in the past, so we’re hoping that this will continue to push it forward.”
Garcia said the project will be done in three phases and that a specific phasing plan will be released to the public when it’s complete. A number of other CIP street improvement projects already have funded allocated or will soon, he said. Among them are Stagecoach Trail between East Morrison Road and East Alton Gloor Boulevard and Wild Rose Lane between North Coria Street and Honeydale Road, both stretches of road in line for full reconstruction. The projects are expected to go our for bid the first quarter of fiscal year 2024, which starts Oct. 1, 2023.
Also included in the department’s five-year work plan are projects to completely rebuild East 14th Street from Southmost Road to International Boulevard, Coffee Road from F.M. 802 to Old Port Isabel Road, and Old Alice Road from Frontage Road to F.M. 802. Additionally, the department’s plans include dozens of projects for milling and overlay improvements of streets around the city, some of them already funded and others likely to be funded in mid-fiscal year 2024.
“We were very fortunate with our budget this year,” Garcia said. “We got some good money and plenty of projects that we’re working on. It gives our residents what they’re asking for. … Now it’ s just making the best use of our funding.”
In addition to street projects, the department has been given funding for several drainage projects, culverts and detention ponds, he said. Garcia asked that residents be patient with the many construction projects underway or soon to be underway around the city.
“We want to make sure everybody’s safe,” he said. “That’s really our highest priority, to make sure we complete these projects as soon as possible for our residents.”