Frontera Road reconstruction project

The planned reconstruction of Frontera Road, a major truck route just south of the Del Rio city limits, will begin at the north end of the road, pictured here, close to the railroad tracks that parallel Leonel Martinez Boulevard. The reconstruction of the road, which has been in the planning phase for more than a decade, is now slated to begin on Jan. 11, 2021.

The long-delayed reconstruction of a major truck route south of the city limits is slated to begin in January 2021, Val Verde County Judge Lewis G. Owens Jr. said.

“On Thursday (Nov. 13), we had our pre-construction meeting, with the contractor, our project manager, representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation, County Commissioner Pct. 4 Gustavo “Gus” Flores, our county engineer and other county staff members, and right now, our start date on the project is Jan. 11, 2021,” Owens said in an interview Friday.

“We already have our project manager, Coastline, who is already working on the project, and they ran the pre-construction meeting, so right now, it looks like we’re headed in the right direction,” Owens said.

Owens said work on Frontera Road will begin about 100 feet south of the railroad tracks that parallel Leonel Martinez Boulevard and continue south. The reconstruction will continue south, then southeast all the way to Alderete Lane.

Owens said the county is still finalizing the financing for the reconstruction.

“What the commissioners court did was to pass a resolution for reimbursement for when we go out for certificates of obligation (COs) or a tax note, so bottom line, what that does, is that we can go back 60 days, if we had any expenditures and reimburse ourselves,” Owens said.

The county judge said there is no time limit or deadline on when the county can issue the COs or tax note to help fund the Frontera Road reconstruction.

“But we are looking at issuing that probably sometime in June 2021,” he said.

“We’ll talk about it as a court right after the first of the year, and we’ll bring in our financial advisor and our bond counsel to start working on that,” he said.

He noted there were some concerns from members of the court as to whether the county should issue COs or a tax note to pay for the roadwork.

“Certificates of obligation can be longer. It’s one of those deals where I don’t believe in doing this on a long-term note, but that’s going to be a decision of the court. I think we should do a tax note, and the interest rate will be about a percent cheaper,” Owens said.

“We’re looking, just to fund the Frontera reconstruction, at about $1.7 million. We’re probably going to add some ’dozers in there that we want to purchase for fire protection. Those are the two items we’re looking at for sure,” the county judge said.

He said the court may also discuss adding a new communications system for the county sheriff’s office as part of the note.

Owens said the county still has about $3.6 million left from the initial TxDOT grant to reconstruct Frontera.

Construction costs for the entire project are currently estimated at $4.8 million, he said.

Owens said he still believes the Frontera Road reconstruction is an important project for the county to start and finish. He said he believes the new road will have benefits for the county once it is completed.

“It’s one of those things where, when you’re trying to bring in new businesses, new industry, and you’re driving down that road and bumping around, going through all those potholes, how do bring someone in like that, if those are an owner’s first impressions?

“If you’re trying to show a company, here’s what we have, and you only get one chance to make that first impression, it just doesn’t look good,” Owens said.

Owens said with the new road in place, he expects growth in that area of the community.

“Manufacturing, warehouses, businesses that work with the maquilas,” he said.

“There are still a number of five and 10-acre tracts to build on down there,” Owens added.

“First, we have to keep what we’ve got. Make sure they’re happy, and that they keep going there, make sure their trucks aren’t breaking down all the time because the road isn’t safe, and then we can go from there, maybe look for other maquilas, other businesses and put them there,” he said.