SINTON – Drivers headed south on U.S. Highway 181 may have noticed a particularly unual sight. The road actually continues towards Corpus Christi and drivers don’t have to stop at a stop sign anymore.
Yes, the overpass project in Sinton has been completed, just as Steel Dynamics, Inc. (SDI) construction is ramping up even higher.
Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the 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. It is a little confusing, and even looking at it on a map doesn’t help.
The $15 million project kicked off in January of 2019 and with numerous weather and COVID-19 delays still managed to finish on schedule.
TxDOT Area Engineer Robert G. Isassi said in an interview last year, “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.”
He added that with intersections, especially ones as busy as that one, safety is always a concern. Just a few weeks before the interview, he mentioned there was a major accident there. Also, 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.
The overpass consists of two 12-foot lanes, four feet inside shoulders, a median in the middle, and 10-foot shoulder on the outside. There is a large mural on the side featuring a cattle herd the designers of the bridge said represents Sinton’s ranching roots.
Getting back to SDI, Isassi said he 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.”
Paul Gonzales is a reporter at The News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.