Construction underway on Bicentennial Blvd. extension

McALLEN — Construction began Wednesday on a nearly 3-mile northward extension of Bicentennial Boulevard from Trenton Road to State Highway 107, a $12.6 million road-building project that city officials said they expect to be completed around this time next year.

The construction on this new four-lane road is a bit unusual for road projects — there won’t be much traffic interfering with construction crews because no streets currently exist where the construction will be taking place, aside from cross streets such as Auburn Avenue, where the groundbreaking ceremony was held on Wednesday.

Mayor pro Tem Veronica Whitacre and City Commissioners Victor “Seby” Haddad, Omar Quintanilla, Javier Villalobos and Joaquin “J.J.” Zamora were all on hand for the event, along with Hidalgo County Water Improvement District 3 President and General Manager Othal “O.E.” Brand, son of longtime Mayor Othal Brand.

City staff was on hand, including City Engineer Yvette Barrera, who along with City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez in November recommended to city commissioners to choose the “low” bid of $12.6 million.

“Our recommendation is going to be applause,” said Rodriguez, smiling, before the measure was approved unanimously.

When the city received the bid in August, Rodriguez called it “ridiculously low” and “It’s the kind of project contractors love” because there is no traffic to deal with, Rodriguez said, just open land.

Barrera and Rodriguez also recounted the early stages of this project soon after Rodriguez was named city manager in 2014. The original plan was for the road to be two-lanes — one in each direction. But they applied for more non-city funds and received enough funding to make it a continuous four-lane road stretching from the McAllen International Airport to State Highway 107 once construction is complete.