CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you’re heading over to the Island, keep in mind that traffic on the JFK Bridge, which leads to the Island in Corpus Christi, may be a little heavier starting soon. Maintenance work on the bridge will begin on Wednesday and starting Tuesday night, barriers will be put up. Wednesday is also when traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
Vily Long, the owner of Donut Palace on the Island, said he’s had a challenging time recovering from the pandemic. He’s afraid these lane closures will affect the amount of people coming to the Island.
“I think it’s going to be very slow because there’s traffic and I believe no tour people are going to come to the Island,” Long said.
Long said neither the City of Corpus Christi nor TXDOT informed him about the construction, and he especially is scared the work will deter visitors during peak tourist seasons.
“The bridge, I hope it’s going to be opened on Spring Break," he said. "It will help all the businesses on the Island, you know. If you close on Spring Break, around on the Island, we get busy a lot.”
Becky Mueller and her husband, Mike, are opening Clear Water Pool and Spa next door to the Donut Palace in March. They said the pandemic has already caused them to delay their opening because of supply shortages. They said they were not alerted, either, about the maintenance work, but Becky is optimistic she will get business from the Island residents.
“You just have to have a little more patience and understand that the state’s got to do what they got to do to better that bridge and make it safe,” Becky Mueller said.
TxDOT’s public information officer for the Corpus Christi area, Rickey Dailey, said all lanes will remain open during hurricane season from June to November. He said as for the rest of the months, only one lane in each direction will be open.
“Without them, this maintenance project at this time — we can face the possibility of closing the bridge entirely for more extensive rehabilitation,” Dailey said.
He said the only exception to the lane closures will be in May, during the Beach to Bay marathon. He said construction should be complete in the spring of 2023, if weather permits. The project is expected to have three phases. Phase One will end in May and Phase Two will end in November 2022.
Dailey said that inspection is done on the bridge every year, and it was determined that maintenance needed to be done on the bridge in order to avoid bigger fixes and closures.
Some Island residents who use the bridge said during the maintenance, they will have to make some adjustments to their commute. Paul Endes is from Dallas, but spends much of his time at his second home on the Island. He said the maintenance is necessary to the structure of the bridge.
“Either you leave earlier, or you’re just going to get there later, whatever," he said. "You do what you got to do.”