Traffic and detours continue as city moves forward with projects

Several+events+have+been+postponed+or+cancelled+due+to+Saturdays+tragedy+at+Cielo+Vista+Wal-Mart

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Several events have been postponed or cancelled due to Saturday’s tragedy at Cielo Vista Wal-Mart

Alonso Moreno, Staff Reporter

Long lines of traffic with frustrated drivers will continue to be a common sight as El Paso continues to move forward with ongoing construction projects and prepare for new ones.

The city of El Paso is bracing for more traffic tie ups, as a new four-year $158-million renovation project is set to begin in April. The project will take place on Interstate 10 from Resler Drive to Executive Center Boulevard to build new ramps and an access road.

“It’s pretty ridiculous at this point, you have projects going all over the place and we just can’t seem to catch a break,” said Isaac Villa, junior psychology major. “I think we can all understand why these projects are important, but it’s the mess they cause which makes it so hard to cope with them and it’s just going to get worse.”

Although the western El Paso construction may be a traffic nightmare for many El Paso commuters, for others it will just be another hurdle to overcome. Many have already been dealing with other construction projects.

“They don’t surprise me anymore, hearing that a new one is on the way is common now,” said Juan Carlos Raygoza, senior multimedia journalism major. “San Jacinto Plaza, Kansas (street) or UTEP, it doesn’t matter. You just have to learn to adapt and hope that you can find a way around them.”

Part of what makes some of these construction projects such a challenge for commuters is that they seem to overlap with others that have already been going on for a while now.

In the case of San Jacinto Plaza, the project recently was delayed and did not meet its February 2015 deadline. Instead, the plaza now is expected to reopen in May.

The delay of the plaza also coincides with the closure of Kansas Street in Downtown El Paso, which is part of a bridge rehabilitation project seeking to give maintenance to bridges that were built in 1946, and have since outlived their expected lifespan.

Kansas Street has been closed to all traffic between Main Street and Franklin Avenue since Feb. 3 and will continue to be closed until May.

“A lot of these projects have strict dates and have actually been properly scheduled,” said Geoffrey Espineli, a civil engineering associate in El Paso’s Engineering Program Management.

When asked about why some of the construction projects were so close to each other in dates, Espineli explained that a lot of it had to do with funding. Some of them were being funded by the Federal Highway Administration through the Texas Department of Transportation, as is the case with the bridge rehabilitation project.

There is also the issue of the possibility of losing the funding or facing penalties for not meeting deadlines, so projects often must take off regardless if there are already ongoing projects affecting the city and commuters.

“These projects are properly scheduled, there are always unforeseen circumstances on every project, but we are always trying to make up for lost time,” Espineli said. “In some cases, crews will even work around a project 24 hours a day in order to ensure that it meets the deadline.”

Alonso Moreno can be reached at [email protected]