As work continues on Phase III of the State Highway 550 project, motorists who use the road that leads to the Port of Brownsville will experience a reduction in traffic lanes.
Traffic has been reduced to two lanes on SH 550, formerly known as FM 511, as work on the road progresses.
Phase III of the SH 550 project calls for the construction of two connector lanes from U.S. 77/83 to SH 550.
Itis referred to as the SH 550 Connector Project and will virtually make it easier for motorists driving on the expressway to connect with SH 550 because the new connection will eliminate having to get off the expressway, driving underneath the expressway and then having to get onto SH 550, officials said.
The reduction in traffic lanes is from Baker Lane to FM 803, which is about one-quarter mile, officials said. Westbound traffic has been placed on the eastbound road which means there is one lane in each direction of traffic.
Pete Sepulveda Jr., coordinator for the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, which is in charge of the project, said the reduction will occur only during the summer months and should last about 60 days.
Sepulveda said this time period was chosen because there will be less school bus traffic in the area because most of the schools are closed during the summer.
The entire project is expected to last anywhere from 18 to 24 months; work on it began in March.
The Los Fresnos school district, which has some schools that are being impacted by the construction, notified the affected schools and parents to expect some traffic delays earlier this year.
A press release posted on the district’s website states, “Parents, students and staff who use the FM 511 and FM 803 intersection are advised that construction delays in the area are likely.”
The project’s goal is to have SH 550 connect directly with the Port of Brownsville to provide tractor-trailer rigs a direct route to the port, rather than having the vehicles exit at SH 550 and the expressway, said David Garcia, assistant county administrator for Cameron County.
The SH 550 modifications will provide all traffic with the opportunity to bypass the busy intersection and continue on to the port.
The project will also mean the elimination of three crossovers along SH 550 between Rancho Verde Elementary School and U.S. Expressway 77/83.
Officials said that to complete the project some lane closures will be necessary. In addition, some night work will be done at FM 803. The northbound and southbound lanes of the expressway will be reduced to two lanes from three lanes as the road construction progresses.