SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – A second causeway for South Padre Island must remain a top priority for the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas, says SPI Mayor Patrick McNulty.

McNulty gave an exclusive interview to Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports immediately following a memorial service for the eight people who lost their lives when SPI’s only highway access point, the Queen Isabella Causeway, collapsed after being hit by four loaded barges. 

That incident occurred on Sept, 15, 2001. The memorial service was held on its 19th anniversary.

“We are the only barrier island In Texas that does not have but one way on and one way off,” McNulty told Whitlock. “We really need to move forward on a plan to provide a second access. I think a second access is also critical to the growth of South Padre Island.”

South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty

McNulty noted that the Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization has identified a second bridge for SPI as a top priority.

“It was a huge benefit that South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Bayview, Laguna Vista was added into the regional MPO, the RGV MPO,” McNulty said. “I think the MPO has placed a priority on a second causeway and I believe we are going to work diligently towards that second access. But that is going to take time. It is important we work very hard to provide that second access.”

McNulty said the case for a second access point was likely to be made at a city council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

“We are going to start the process, hopefully, of annexing 8,000 lineal feet on the north end of the island which would then show another indication of way a second causeway is needed to help promote this new development,” McNulty said. “It could be quite substantial for South Padre Island and for the Lower Rio Grande Valley.”

Asked by Whitlock what state legislators should work on during the next session to help SPI, McNulty said: “I would just ask all of them to understand our special needs and make it a priority for them to focus on the life, health, safety and welfare of South Padre Island, and a community that generates lots of goodwill for the state of Texas.”

Plans developed by Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority to develop a second causeway for SPI have been put on hold because state leaders imposed a moratorium on toll projects. The second causeway plan was designed to be a toll project. Asked about this, McNulty said: “The state has made exceptions for projects already in the works to allow them to continue to be a toll-road. South Padre Island’s second causeways has always been considered a toll road project and I hope we can get the green light to start back on the feasibility and environmental studies, etc, that are required to move this project forward.”

McNulty also answered questions about the impact COVID-19 has had on the SPI economy. 

Here is the audio interview Ron Whitlock conducted with South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty:

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