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      Second causeway expected to generate thousands of jobs

      For many years, it has been the only lifeline linking South Padre Island to the mainland, but in a few years the Queen Isabella Causeway will be one of two ways to the beach.

      I think we TMre looking at the next five to seven years, Pete Sepulveda said.

      He works for the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority.

      The second access bridge will measure between seven and eight miles long, making it three times longer than the Queen Isabella Causeway, according to Sepulveda.

      But with the final price tag estimated at $450 million, it will also cost three times more.

      The second access bridge is one of several the Cameron County RMA is taking on.

      They are expected to bring a big boost to the Valley TMs economy.

      It includes 20 projects totaling about $1.7 billion," Sepulveda said. We TMre looking at about 80,000 jobs, both direct and indirect.

      In addition to the bridge, crews will build a limited access road.

      It will stretch from Expressway 77, north of Harlingen, to the new bridge, somewhere between Laguna Vista and the Port Isabel Airport.

      For Sepulveda, the projects are for more than just getting to the beach faster.

      In Cameron County and the whole Rio Grande Valley, the population is expected to double, so we feel that we need to start the planning process today, he said.

      With more people, he said infrastructure and safety during major disasters also play big roles.

      The Cameron County RMA will host a public hearing at the South Padre Convention Center on July 17.

      They will present the proposed route for the bridge, and get input from the public on the project.