Construction began Monday on the long-planned Qualia Relief Route, which, when completed, will give residents in far south Del Rio an alternate street into and out of the area.
The relief route will link Qualia Road with Spur 239. The project is expected to be completed in the late summer or early fall of 2020.
Planning for the Qualia Relief Route began after the federal government constructed a new Del Rio Port of Entry, moving the port north and closing access to Spur 239 from Rio Grande Road just south of the Del Rio city limits. Rio Grande Road now dead ends in a cul-de-suc just north of the border fence just south of the new port of entry.
“On the (the Del Rio Port of Entry) property, there’s a little area that we refer to as a ‘hammerhead,’ that allows trucks to turn around. That is where we are going to be tying the relief route into,” said City Utilities Director Matt Evans said Friday.
“What this is going to allow is letting people in and out of (the south end of) Qualia, so they don’t have to go all the way up Qualia to Hudson Drive and Pecan Street get out,” Evans said.
Del Rio City Council members awarded the construction contract for the Qualia Relief Route to the San Angelo company Reece Albert Inc. in December 2018.
Construction of the relief route was postponed in April because of the weather.
Signs announcing the project have already been placed along the shoulder of Qualia Road where the route will begin and a rough path cut through a stand of trees in the direction of the “hammerhead” north of the port of entry where the route will tie in.
“There’s a lot of trees in this area, and a cattle farm, so we will be relocating some cattle fence. There’s also an irrigation canal that we are going to divert just a little bit so the water will be able to run, and the owners on either side will still be able to irrigate their fields,” Evans said.
The first step in constructing the road will be felling and removing the trees and clearing the brush in the road’s path.
“The most important part of this project is that we’re not actually going deep into the ground, we’re taking the base as it is right now. That’s going to be the sub-base, and we’re going to build on top of that,” Evans said.
He said one of the problems in building in the area is that a portion of it is subject to flooding after heavy rainfall.
“It’s a very low water area, and part of the problem was that this irrigation canal didn’t allow it to dry up,” he said.
Evans said another problem was that the irrigation canal’s outfall area is clogged with debris, keeping it from draining efficiently.
“The plan is to open up the irrigation canal a little bit so the outfall will be more efficient,” Evans said.
The relief route will be about 2,000 feet long, he said.
Once the land is cleared, the next step will be placing two layers of “filter fabric.”
“One layer is placed on the ground, and on top of that, we’re going to put oversized rock, and on top of that will be another layer of filter fabric that will keep the rock in place and on top of that, we’re getting into the roadway,” Evans said.
Several culverts will be constructed under the road at separate points, and Evans noted the elevation of the roadway itself is outside the 100-year floodplain.
Once the filter fabric is placed, the rest of the road can be thought of as a layer cake, Evans said.
“It comes down to putting in different layers to make the ‘cake’ work,” he said.
Making sure the base material is as compact as it needs to be is the most important part of the entire project, Evans explained.
The city is asking for residents’ patience with the construction and heavy machinery noise for the duration of the project.