LaMantia: If the Valley is united we can get a 2nd Causeway for South Padre Island

State Sen. Morgan LaMantia speaks about the second access project at a public affairs luncheon hosted by SPI Chamber of Commerce.

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – If the Rio Grande Valley is united in support of a 2nd Causeway for South Padre Island, and the community starts talking about it and raising its profile, it can happen.

This is the view of state Sen. Morgan LaMantia, D-South Padre Island.

LaMantia spoke about the second access project at a public affairs luncheon hosted by the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce and held at Margaritaville.

Louie Sanchez, the island’s governmental affairs consultant, moderated the discussion, which also featured state Rep. Janie Lopez, R-San Benito. Sanchez asked LaMantia what her strategy is for securing funding for the 2nd Causeway.

“You did mention the second access causeway, senator, which is very important to the community here in South Padre Island,” Sanchez said.

“Senator, we know that currently the proposed second access causeway is still in its environmental phase, which means the environmental impact study still remains to be completed. We know that the budget next session will be a Senate Bill. What do you propose as a strategy assuming that the environmental phase can reach its benchmarks in time for appropriations (next session). What  strategy would you propose for being successful next legislative session?”

LaMantia responded: “Continue working together. We’ve got Senator Chuy Hinojosa. He is the vice chair of finance, and he’s the Senator for Hidalgo County all the way up to Corpus. He very much supports the 2nd Causeway as well. And we’re going to need everyone in the Rio Grande Valley to come together and be in agreement on this.”

LaMantia said the Valley needs to speak as “one voice” on the need for a 2nd Causeway.

“This is a priority for us. This is something we need for the entire region right now. We need the support of the entire county, the region, the Valley, on a project this big. We really need as much support as possible. So I would say continue to talk to our elected officials.”

LaMantia said she knows that Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño has spoken to Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick about the 2nd Causeway project.

“Both of which have said that they support and want to see the 2nd Causeway happen. We need to make sure they don’t forget that they told us that that they are there and they’re gonna support it, and that they’re willing to put the money behind the project as well.”

LaMantia pointed out that the Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization has received more $937 million in transportation funding this year. She said this is the highest it has ever received.

“We need everyone working together on this. What we also need to do is, when the environmental study comes out, we need to keep in constant communication with TxDOT because it will then be their job to put together the plan and make sure everything is built the correct way, taking into account the ecological issues that were brought up in the study.”

LaMantia then listed the stakeholders that would be involved in the 2nd Causeway project.

“So, as we continue to work together and have those voices at the RMA (Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority) at the MPO, at TxDOT, we can start to see things happen. But, so long as we have everyone in the community talking about it, that’s the best way we can try to get it done and show people how important it is.”

LaMantia added that a 2nd Causeway does not just help South Padre Island. 

“We have people coming here from all over the country. When you say you’re from South Texas, the Valley, they say, where is that. You say Harlingen and they are not sure. But they know where South Padre Island is.”

A visit by Senator Nichols

At the same public affairs luncheon, LaMantia said she has formed a great working relationship with state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville. Nichols is chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation. 

“We are going to be able to have him come down to South Texas. And so he and (Texas House Committee on Transportation) Chairman (Terry) Canales and myself will go tour the South Texas, tour the Valley. We’re going to talk to all the elected officials, talk to stakeholders, show them our roads and infrastructure.”

LaMantia said the good relationships she has built up on both sides of the aisle during her first session will help secure additional funding next session.

“So, hopefully next session, it’s not just us fighting for the infrastructure, fighting for the 2nd Causeway, but we will have friends from all over the state of Texas, understanding the values we have in the Valley and fighting for us as well.”

Among the dignitaries at the SPI Chamber public affairs luncheon were Judge Treviño, Cameron County RMA Executive Director Pete Sepulveda, and SPI Mayor Patrick McNulty.

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