CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Getting onto or off of North Padre Island just got a little more difficult
Texas Department of Transportation workers started closing one lane of the JFK bridge in both directions Thursday night so that they can begin a maintenance project that will take them until at least the spring of 2023 to complete.
Only one lane remains open in each of the bridge's directions, which is causing traffic backups that are bothersome to some folks.
“It’s going to be horrific," Corpus Christi resident Mel Glenn said. "And then you’ve got construction on The Island. I won’t come out here if this is still going on."
For folks who live on The Island, it means a more time-consuming drive to reach Corpus Christi's many stores and services.
It has one island resident trying to decide whether he'll continue to make those trips, or just do his shopping on the east side of the causeway.
"Most of the stores out here charge a little bit more than the stores in town," Michael Manigold said. "It’s nicer to go in town so you can save a little bit."
A TxDOT press release states the $9 million project, "is designed to maximize the life of the bridge and to reduce the overall life-cycle costs of the bridge."
Workers will reopen the closed lanes when hurricane season begins in June, and the lanes will remain open until the season ends at the end of November.
Occasionally, they may close all lanes of traffic on the causeway for up to 30 minutes at a time, but they only can do that between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m, and only Monday-Thursday.
Traffic was heavy westbound Friday night because Flour Bluff High School was hosting a state high-school quarterfinal football playoff game.
More drivers than normal were using the causeway route to get there, and they had to deal with the bridge's lane closures.
That experience could be a preview of the impact the maintenance project will have on traffic during Spring Break, when thousands of people come to the Coastal Bend to visit.
“Spring Break — it’s probably going to be incredibly bad," Manigold said. "There’s probably going to be a lot of cars stacked up here.”
TxDOT urges drivers to be patient as the maintenance project plays out.
Glenn is going to try her best to do so.
“I feel for them," she said. "They’re working — it seems — like on every street in town right now. So yeah, we really feel for them."