The Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway has been reopened, according to Texas Department of Transportation Public Relations Officer Octavio Saenz.
The Queen Isabella Causeway has been shut down since about noon due to some unknown threat.
“A third party call came in that led the bridge to be closed,” Saenz said. “We are out there visually right now inspecting the bridge. Safety is our first mandate.”
Saenz said that there is a collapse detection system on the causeway with fiber optics all around. If there would be some structural damage the system would notify officials immediately.
“There is nothing as of now that would constitute an emergency,” Saenz said. “We want to be diligent and we have two engineers over there who first drove along the bridge and have inspected the underbelly of the bridge with the assistance of the Coast Guard.”
“TXDOT has done the first search. The U.S. Coast Guard is going to do its search. Cameron County is going to have its drone go over ahead,” said Port Isabel Fire Marshal John Sandoval.
All traffic was moved off the Causeway and both east and westbound lanes were shutdown shortly after the call was received.
Hundreds of motorists are stuck in traffic.
“Just bear with us. We take every concern and every threat very seriously and this is only for the safety and well being of the general public,” Sandoval said.
DPS tweeted that the Causeway “will be closed in both lanes for a situation in progress.”
The live video camera from sopadre.com showed traffic stalled on Padre Boulevard and periodically it is being diverted at the turnaround at the base of the bridge.
The Pirate’s Landing live video camera from Port Isabel showed the causeway empty in both directions.
Statement from Texas Department of Transportation
UPDATE ON QUEEN ISABELLA MEMORIAL CAUSEWAY
May 5, 2017 (1:57PM)
PHARR – The Texas Department of Transportation is currently inspecting the underbelly of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway. The inspection is taken as a precautionary measure. Earlier today a third party call to authorities alluded to a potential threat.
We stress that there is no indication of visual or structural damage and that the collapse detection system (a fiber optic system that activates through the use of sensors of any offset in integrity) has not alerted of any issues. Nevertheless, because safety is our main mandate, we are doing our due diligence and working in conjunction with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure the safety of the driving public. We estimate that the bridge could reopen within an hour.
We should add at this point that the Texas Department of Transportation recently performed an inspection of the Queen Isabella Memorial just two weeks ago.