AUGUST 24, 2016
No one ever plans to get into a car accident, much less a deadly one. But when a car crash happens at the Queen Isabella Causeway it shakes a community who thrives on tourism economy. Last week, the Queen Isabella Causeway closed some of its lanes for almost 5 consecutive hours. The cause was an incident that involved one fatality. As a result traffic was halted in both South Padre Island and Port Isabel. Some say that even though it was one incident, it shook the entire community.
Police Chief Wally Gonzales says, “The fatality makes it a little harder to open up the bridge right away. It has to be done much more accurate.” While preliminary investigations were ongoing on the bridge, many waited for hours just to move a few blocks. Some locals could not make it through their own city.
Chief Gonzales, “When I came in, I said, you guys go ahead and go work traffic around. Make sure the intersections are open for people in our community to be able to move around.” After speaking to some business owners, most say the day of the incident was the worst for sales that week. For some it was even harder to make it to work.
Business owner Rubi Vasquez said one couldn’t find a place to go to or from. It was very chaotic. Locals tell me that the causeway closes frequently: for charity marathons, holidays, and even accidents. There is plans to bring a second causeway to alleviate traffic in the future, but that is still years away if approved. There is so much traffic, I would like to see traffic officers on bicycles said Vasquez.
Chief Gonzales added, “What I would like to tell all the motorist that come down is to take it easy on the bridge. Most accidents are caused by people that are driving at high velocities. You’re going to get there! The island is not going to go anywhere.” Port Isabel Police says all officers were on duty during this accident. Business owners near the Port Isabel Light House say closures to the causeway are something they have gotten used to.
By Alfredo Cuadros