The South Port Connector Road was in the works long before SpaceX appeared on the horizon, though it will come in very handy in terms of the Port of Brownsville’s relationship with the rocket company, by connecting the port with State Highway 4 just down the road from SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch complex.

At the annual State of the Port event on March 19, Brownsville Navigation District Chairman John Reed said in his presentation that “the port expects to play an important role in the operation of SpaceX, similar in scope to what’s happening at Cape Canaveral in Florida.”

“Whether that’s in mission vehicle recovery operations, or shipping and receiving critical components, the port will be involved,” he said.

The 1.8-mile-long connector road, which will feature two bridges, will link the port at Ostos Road on the south side of the Brownsville Ship Channel with S.H. 4 about 14 miles west of the SpaceX launch site. It is the first phase of the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority’s East Loop Corridor Project, which CCRMA hopes will eventually link the port — via a 10-mile southern loop around the city — with I-69E at Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates.

The port connector and loop system will create access to the port for overweight trucks per legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2009, according to CCRMA Executive Director Pete Sepulveda Jr. Roads built to overweight standards can be used by trucks with loads up to 120,000 pounds, compared to 74,000 pounds for conventional roads, he said.

Design is complete on the two-lane, $20 million connector, the project has been fully funded and CCRMA anticipates receiving environmental clearance “any day now,” Sepulveda said.

“Once we get that clearance we can proceed to the bidding phase,” he said.

The direct link to SpaceX is icing on the cake, Sepulveda said.

“It’s going to be serving as a connection for any parts or rocket engines or those type of products to be shipped to the port, to be moved onto the SpaceX site,” Sepulveda said.

He estimated that the connector will take nine months to a year to complete.

“It’s a new road,” Sepulveda said. “We won’t be interrupting any traffic. It can go pretty quick. We’ll get a good contractor that can knock it out fairly quick.”