Pharr, Texas – The City of Pharr, in conjunction with the City of Edinburg and the Texas Department of Transportation, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the commencement of construction for the highly anticipated Owassa Road Project, which will expand Owassa Road from two lanes to four lanes between Jackson Road and US Highway 281. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at Owassa Road (between Jackson and Sugar Roads) in Pharr.
Attendees at the ceremony included Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia, Pharr City Commissioners Ricardo Medina and Eleazar Guajardo, Edinburg Councilmembers David Torres and Ricardo Medina, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Pharr District Deputy Engineer Hector Gonzalez, Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Director Andrew Cannon, and Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios’ Chief Administrator Jose Caso, among other notable guests.
As vehicles and commercial traffic zoomed by on the narrow road in the background, Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez noted that there had long been a need for roadway expansion and improvements on this section of Owassa Road to accommodate the growing needs of the area. More than 10,000 vehicles pass through Owassa Road daily and the current two-lane road slows down traffic flow, affecting passenger and commercial vehicle commutes for drivers throughout the region. Since 2012, the project had not gained much traction; when Hernandez took office in 2015 he made it a priority and was able to successfully fast-track the project.
“The expansion of this project from two lanes to four lanes will enhance the flow of traffic along this road, improve the safety conditions of vehicular traffic, and overall, help our cities grow and prosper,” Hernandez stated. “We are proud to lead the effort with this project and we are grateful for the great partnerships and support we have with the City of Edinburg, TxDOT, the MPO and Hidalgo County,” he continued.
“We look forward to continuing these partnerships that make transportation infrastructure improvements a priority for our area, and we will continue to work together to provide safe, smooth, and reliable roadways for all our citizens,” Hernandez added.
Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia thanked Hernandez for his work advocating on behalf of regional transportation projects in the Rio Grande Valley, commending Hernandez’s work in Austin and his leadership at the MPO. “This avenue is a main artery in our cities and he was the person that led the charge and took care of this project,” Garcia stated. Garcia also emphasized the impressive partnership between the two cities. “We are neighbors here, we hold hands and we grow together; everything that we do in our cities is regional,” he ended.
The Owassa Road Project will expand and improve approximately 2.2 miles of roadway between Jackson Road and US 281, expanding the existing 22-foot of roadway to 66 feet. The total project cost is approximately $6.2 million and includes roadway construction, utility improvement and right-of-way acquisition. The project is part of the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) 2015 – 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP); funding for the project is made possible through Category 7 and Category 12 funds from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Normally, the project would require a 20% match from the local municipality, but because this project qualifies under the Economically Disadvantaged County Program, the city is only responsible for 1% of the roadway construction cost.
While Owassa Road was temporarily closed this week to relocate utilities, it is anticipated that the road will remain opened to the public during the construction of the project, which is expected to take approximately 22 months.