SINTON – Whether drivers are headed to Corpus Christi on U.S. Highway 181, turning off to Rockport or taking the long way around to get into Sinton, they will likely see the massive construction project currently underway.
When work began on the more than $15 million project in January, business owners saw it as another reason to bypass the town which was dire need of an economic boost.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, this project constructs an overpass over the SH 188 roadway on the US 181/SH 89 route. This is an interesting roadway naming cluster at this location because SH 89 begins at this intersection and continues to US 77. US 181 turns to the west, into Sinton, while SH 188 goes east/west and overlaps with US 181 in Sinton.
TxDOT Area Engineer Robert G. Isassi said, “We’ve had plans on the shelf for some time and now that we have funding available, we are finally getting this done, because we needed it.”
Isassi said that with intersections, especially ones as busy as that one, safety is always a concern. Just a few weeks ago, there was a major accident there and while touring the construction site, numerous cars and trucks simply rolled through stop signs – even with large construction vehicles crossing over roadways.
“So the people who are going through or not going through town and are just trying to get wherever they need to go, it’s best that they don’t stop at all,” Isassi continued.
“So that’s what we’re building that project for, just so that we can get people safely across.”
Isassi added that with the new overpass, it will actually create an opportunity for Sinton to market their town and what they have such as restaurants and stores because there will be signage leading up to the exits.
Of course, all the talk of suffering local businesses was made before Steel Dynamics announced that Sinton would be the home of its $1.7 billion steel plant.
And Isassi sees the overpass as one key factor in the company making that decision.
“I think the steel plant wants to see these overpasses,” he said. “They’re able to get stuff from the Port (of Corpus Christi) over to us; that’s another key reason.
“You know, of course, the rail that’s right next to them. That’s great. But they wouldn’t come otherwise.”
The overpass will consist of two 12-foot lanes, four feet inside shoulders, a median in the middle, and 10-foot shoulder on the outside. It is expected to be completed July 6, 2020.
“Currently, the project is running smoothly and on time,” Isassi said. “The biggest challenge we foresee is handling traffic when we start work over the roadway.
“To safely complete the overhead work, we will see traffic diverted to crossovers north and south of the intersection – requiring east-west traffic to turn right and take the next crossover.
“We are working to minimize these re-routes, but they will be necessary to safely complete the work. We will be sure to inform the traveling public with message boards as well as public releases when the time comes.”