‘This is for safety’: Residents raise concerns for new FM 802 street project - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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‘This is for safety’: Residents raise concerns for new FM 802 street project

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Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 9:39 am

A public hearing was held Tuesday evening where residents were able to voice their concerns and questions about the proposed project to widen a portion of Ruben M. Torres Sr. Boulevard, also known as FM 802, and to raise the concrete median in the high traffic area.

According to the presentation, the problems the Texas Department of Transportation is trying to address are the: increased congestion, decreased mobility and the increased crash rates.

“The use of this road is only expected to increase because of the growing local community and commercial development,” Jose Cardenas, project manager, said to the audience. “For the past few years, there have been a high number of crashes, with the potential that the number might increase further unless something is done. Therefore, due to the need to improve congestion, mobility and safety, additional lanes and a concrete median will be added along FM 802.”

The project, which is about 1.36 miles long, will begin at FM 802 and FM 1847 (Paredes Line Road) and end at Old Port Isabel Road. It would involve the construction of a raised concrete median and widening of the four exiting lanes to six 12-foot wide travel lanes and two 10-foot wide bike lanes. The 6-foot wide sidewalks will remain in place along both sides of the roadway. In addition, the project includes proposed right and turn lanes at intersections throughout the project, The Brownsville Herald reported on Monday.

“Everything that Texas does has a purpose and a need and we want to ensure that this project is for the benefit of the community,” TxDOT spokesman Octavio Saenz said.

Rose Timmer, executive director of Healthy Communities, participated in the public comment section and said she is worried about the elderly home located in front of the Walmart on 802. She said she lives on Old Port Isabel, one of the congestion lanes.

“I want to know what you are going to do about the elderly home that’s in the middle of this area that you’re going to be talking about. They walk to Walmart, and they’re supposed to go to the light, to do what they do, but we’ve had I think one death, where one of them, they cross through that medium and, I mean, everything is going to prevent them from doing that,” Timmer said.

Andres Espinoza, San Benito Assistant Area Engineer who was part of the panel, replied by saying he encourages pedestrians to walk to the signalized section to cross. He also said the whole point of the project is to ensure safety for the community.

“During the construction, we can go and talk to them (the elderly home) and make them aware of the project and let them know the rules,” Espinoza said.” At the end of the day this is for safety, we want to make sure that we encourage and that we notify the public, that we educate the public as far as how pedestrians are supposed to be crossing the street.”

Another concern was mentioned to the panelists by Alfonso Vallejo, a resident of Brownsville, who said he is worried about the congestion the project will cause to Walmart’s entrance. He said during Christmas time, the area gets congested and the project may increase the congestion.

“My concern is about the new entrance to Walmart from west to east. If you can check, if it will be one lane, right now it’s two lanes, it will be better to have two lanes to avoid congestion for the entrance,” Vallejo said. “In the future, like in Christmas, everybody goes to Walmart and there’s going to be congestion.”

Cardenas said the condition will be evaluated and that a synchronization of traffic signals will be done.

Assistant Director at Brownsville Metro, Robert J. Garza, was also part of the public comment section, and said Metro is very excited about the project and they are looking forward to having it completed.

“We are looking forward to having this completed, for the community, for the buses. (The project) will help us be safer, not only the bus drivers but also the passengers,” he said. “We only ask that you help us with synchronizing the traffic signals, so we can run smoother.”

Residents are encouraged to raise their concerns about the projects via email to robin.gelston@txdot.gov, fax (956) 702-6110 or mail to “TxDot Pharr District. Attn: FM 802 from FM 1847. 600 W. Interstate 2, Pharr, TX, 78577.”

The deadline to submit a comment is Sep.25.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com

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