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      Road improvements create muddy mess in Brownsville

      The drive home after a long day, is not something Marisol Martinez looks forward to. A drive down Western Street in Brownsville, reveals why " it TMs a bumpy ride.

      Road improvements began around September but lately, Martinez said, it seems the project has stalled.

      Parked construction machines can attest to her claims.

      "I TMm scared for my grandchildren because now there's sinkholes on the ground and we can TMt tell how deep they can get, Martinez said. It hasn't even rained and it's sinking."

      Brownsville City Engineer Carlos Lastra admits the project had setbacks due to bad weather. He adds the main hold-up is because they have to push gas lines further into the ground and in some cases replace them for new ones, in order to avoid breaking them when putting in the new road. Construction crews cannot work until the gas company finishes their part.

      "(Construction crews are) in danger of hitting a line and we don't want to do that, Lastra said. It would be a disaster if that happens."

      However, Martinez said the improvements on her street have taken a toll.

      Residents have to travel several streets down to pick-up mail since their mailboxes were relocated during the construction; they've had to spend a little more on gas since some children can't walk to the bus stop anymore. Dhe adds her car is taking a beating.

      "We've also had troubles with trash pick-up, Martinez said. At one point, our trash wasn't picked up for two weeks because the trash truck couldn't come through since it's too heavy for the road."

      Lastra said, unfortunately, the city cannot do anything to reimburse residents for their added burdens during construction. But very soon they will get a smooth street, he said.

      "The goal here is to improve the quality of life for the people that live on that street and it's a very good project, Lastra said. We're happy with it, and we appreciate the patience of the people. I know they've suffered a bit, but once it's all said and done, there should be a brand new street that will be very nice."