Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Hanna wreaking havoc across the Rio Grande Valley, the Pharr interchange expansion project is still on schedule to begin this month.

Octavio Saenz, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation, said TxDOT is exhausting the project’s preliminary stages before shovel-ready work begins.

“We’re essentially just looking for and identifying utilities prior to any groundbreaking,” Saenz said.

Construction on the $303 million project is expected in mid to late August.

Dragados-Pulice Joint Venture was appointed by TxDOT to undertake the design work, as well as construction and maintenance.

The project will improve 7.8 miles of roadway in the cities of McAllen, Pharr and San Juan, including I-2 from just west of Second Street to east of FM 2557, and I-69C from Nolana Loop to I-2, including the interchange.

The improvements include the full reconstruction of the I-2/I-69C Interchange to include two-lane direct connectors in all four directions, reconstruction and widening of the 1-2 general purpose lanes from six to eight lanes, or four lanes in each direction, as well as reconfigurations of the main lane ramps on I-2 from Second Street to FM 2557 (Stewart Road).

The project will also improve the approaches and departures to and from the direct connectors.

“Basically what we’re doing right now is closing frontage roads to do this utility work,” Saenz said.

With the pandemic and more recently inclement weather in Hidalgo County, Saenz explained that it has not hindered the process of pre-work for the project.

“Fortunately, (Hurricane Hanna) did not,” Saenz said. “It was already planned to be a groundbreaking in August. That’s still going forward. Right now the ground is kind of saturated, so that might push us back a few days.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2022.

Residents can sign up to receive information and updates for the project by visiting www.dpjvtx.com.