Spur 1966 project price expected to increase following delay

EL PASO, Texas - Last weekend's freeway tragedy has already had a heavy cost.

Two construction workers are dead and police have charged an 18-year-old with two counts of intoxication manslaughter after he allegedly hit the workers with his vehicle.

The massive highway project is expected to be delayed.

All told, the Spur 1966 project, which will connect Paisano to Schuster, was projected to cost about $31 million. The project has been delayed at least a month because of last weekend's tragedy. And the price is expected to go up.

"We will continue the project," said El Paso District public information officer Blanca Del Valle. "We're talking about a bridge over I-10. This project is important not only for everyone, but for UTEP, the Medical Center ... This is connecting Paisano to Schuster. It's a very important project."

Del Valle said it's difficult to estimate the cost of the delay, but it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One of the biggest costs is trucking huge beams to El Paso from San Antonio, beams that had to be returned when the freeway closure was aborted.

"It was one truck per beam," Del Valle said. "We're talking about 24 beams."

Last weekend's failed closure attempt wasn't the only one TxDOT was planning. The Spur 1966 project, which was originally scheduled to be finished by May of next year, will take at least seven weekend closures of I-10 to complete.

"We haven't set a specific date," Del Valle said. "We are looking at perhaps the weekend after Memorial weekend, but it's not definite. This is when we're hoping to continue and it would be the same setup, (shut down) all day Sunday."

That will be the first of seven upcoming freeway closures over the next several months.

"We're going to take added precautions," Del Valle said. "I don't know what it is, what the measures are, but we will take added precautions."

Del Valle said it's unclear at this point who will pay for the delays on this project, including trucking those two dozen beams back to El Paso from San Antonio. But it's likely it will ultimately fall on the taxpayer.

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