Drive out towards Flour Bluff these days and you see construction and detour signs detailing the route around the construction that is taking place along Laguna Shores Parkway. What might seem like a burden to some is really a welcome relief to others and it was no easy feat getting to where the project is today.
Back in September Corpus Christi City Council approved the awards for the three contracts to two separate contractors for what is expected to be a game changing renovation project for the bedroom community that is envisioning itself as the “Gateway to the Laguna Madre.”
The longterm vision for Flour Bluff is still a bit foggy even though there are some interesting details tucked away inside the Area Development Plan. Much of that plan hangs on being able to get people off the freeway and into the actual community of Flour Bluff to spend money at places other than a few gas stations and big box retailers. The Laguna Shores Parkway project that was approved by voters back in 2018 seems to make a move towards doing just that.
“Matt, this is a real game changer for Flour Bluff,” said District 4 council member Greg Smith who represents Flour Bluff, North Padre Island and portions of Ocean Drive. “What we have here is a parkway project that not only makes the area safer but also really does a lot to improve the area.”
The project extends from South Padre Island Drive to Martha Street at the very end of Laguna Shores Parkway. The project will cost around $18 million dollars and is paid for using voter approved bond money from 2018 and wastewater fees and the contractors that won the bids wasted no time getting started on the project.
Haas-Anderson was awarded the contract for the portion of roadway that stretches from Martha to Mediterranean. They will also handle the project from Caribbean to Hustlin’ Hornet Drive. Another Corpus Christi based contractor, Mako, will handle the project from Graham to South Padre Island Drive.
“I mean if you look at what this project took just to get this far you’d be amazed,” Smith said. “I was having to call city staff nearly every day to get this project pushed through.”
Smith says that part of the problem was permitting.
“We had to deal with getting permits from the Federal Government because of the wetlands,” Smith explains. “A lot of it had to do with Redhead Pond and making sure that we mitigated the risks around that.”
Many people do not even recognize that Redhead Pond exists but its importance to the ecosystem nonetheless is important. It is listed as a Wildlife Management Area maintained through public and private partnerships between a friends group and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Because of its location and sensitivity there is also a Federal component there to it, as well.
“We had to make sure that we protected that and limited the risks to the freshwater pond,” Smith noted. “We had to be very careful with that and make sure that we were taking all of the steps in order to make sure that we were compliant.”
Smith is proud of his accomplishment on the project—and he should be.
The roadway has been prone to flooding and damage not only from regular tropical storms and hurricanes but from just run of the mill seasonal storms that blow through the area. Rain storms often cause flooding and damage to the roadway because of how low the roadway sits. The new project that Smith has been working so diligently on aims to change that.
The project will raise the roadway over two feet and it will widen the road from ten feet with no shoulder to 12 feet with a shoulder. It will also reinforce some of the subsurface and reroute storm water into the Redhead pond basin. There will also be minor infrastructure changes associated with the project with things such as gas lines and electrical equipment. All of the behind the scenes work done by Smith and city staffers that he works hand in hand with is finally starting to come into a reality.
While the preliminary work on the project began some time back, the actual construction got underway this month and is going off like clockwork. Signs of progress can be seen almost along the entire stretch of parkway and that has everybody in Flour Bluff and many people around town excited.
Work is expected to be completed in 2021.