Reopen to traffic

PORT ISABEL — Traffic was at a standstill Wednesday morning between two coastal cities causing a delay in motorists’ schedules.

The Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway reopened to traffic around 11 a.m. after being closed for close to two hours due to the activation of an emergency system.

According to Octavio Saenz, a Texas Department of Transportation public information officer, the causeway’s emergency system activates whenever there is an interruption in any part of it, which includes a large fiber optic cable that runs the length of the bridge.

“Whenever it’s activated, the lights go off, the barrier comes down and a squad car on South Padre Island’s side will prevent any vehicles from getting on,” he explained. “Usually, which is the exception rather than the rule, sometimes the system can be activated due to a power outage or a strong gust of wind can cause that.”

Saenz said sometimes even the shift of very strong temperature changes can also cause it to activate because the bridge expands and compresses like any material on the road.

Saenz said a TxDOT crew and Coast Guard personnel inspected the causeway as a precautionary measure.

According to a tweet from TxDOT posted around 11 a.m. Wednesday, crews continued to review the electrical components of the alert system after reopening the causeway.

“There are no incidents, crashes, nothing of that sort. Nevertheless, we have the safety of people’s lives in our hands,” Saenz said.