CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Since phase one of a $9 million maintenance project on the JFK Bridge began, mainland Corpus Christi resident Amaya Barboza has found it difficult to make it to work on time.
That project forced the Texas Department of Transportation to close two lanes of the four-lane bridge back in November.
It's led to occasional traffic jams getting onto and off of Padre and Mustang Islands, where Barboza works as a server at Hardknocks Sports Grill.
“My manager would text me, ‘Where you at? Where you at?" she said. "I’m like, ‘I’m still on the bridge.'"
Barboza says the added traffic made her as much as 30 minutes late to work some days which is why she's happy that TxDOT completed phase one of their project and reopened those lanes on the bridge this week.
“Now that the causeway is back open, I get to work on time all the time," Barboza said.
Not only is phase one complete — the work was finished ahead of schedule.
TxDOT originally didn't expect to be able to reopen the lanes until June 1.
“There was quite a bit of prep work performed earlier in the project," TxDOT Corpus Christi District Public Information Officer Rickey Dailey said, explaining the project's early end date. "That allowed the contractor to move more quickly in the springtime. We also had good weather. We really haven’t had any rain unfortunately, so there weren’t weather delays either."
Two lanes of the bridge will be closed again when phase two of the project is set to begin December 1.
Until then, and during the entirety of Hurricane Season, all lanes will be open — except for intermittent closures, which Dailey says he'll supply advanced notice to the public.
He thanked the community for their patience during phase one — and in advance of phase two — as workers rehabilitate the bridge in hopes of extending its lifespan.
"Yes, there were some backups," Dailey said. "But I think they were minor compared to what people thought they might be.”
Barboza wouldn't call them minor.
But even with the annual influx of seasonal Island visitors, now that the lanes are back open, she doesn't foresee many traffic problems.
“Everything will be open during the summer, and I expect business to be really really good out here," Barboza said.