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20110715_MapMISSION — With two major highway projects well underway, Mission is on track to gain approval for yet another major project – the extension of Inspiration Road under Expressway 83 and rebuilding the overpass at that intersection.

The proposed $23.2 million project would connect the north and south portions of Inspiration Road, which are presently interrupted by the expressway. Plans call for construction of a new overpass crossing over Business 83 and Inspiration Road as well as expansion of the expressway from four to six lanes. The project also includes a complete reconstruction of the intersection and frontage roads.

Last week, the Mission Redevelopment Authority board authorized its executive director, Richard Perez, to sign a contract with L&G Engineering for Phase II of the design work for the project. The action is subject to approval later this month of $20.4 million in funding by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which prioritizes and allocates funding for TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) projects in Hidalgo County.

If the MPO approves the funding, the project will be able to proceed. Those close to the project are optimistic that the funds will be approved.

“There is a very strong potential – almost a done deal – that the $20.4 million…is going to be funded by the MPO,” said Behrooz Badiozzamani P.E., executive vice president of L&G Engineering.

Badiozzamani said the public meetings have been held, schematics are nearly finished and the environmental is started. Once the funding is approved, environmental clearance must be obtained, and right-of-way acquired before actual construction can begin. The whole process to complete the project is estimated to take about three years.

He said the project would re-construct Expressway 83 from four lanes to six lanes past Inspiration Road. A separate TxDOT project will covert the current four-lane expressway to six lanes from Inspiration to Showers Road. That project has been approved and is contracted to begin this week or next, said TxDOT Engineer Juan Sustaita, of the Pharr area office. This project will only consist of overlay of existing pavement and re-striping. No new roadway construction will be required.

Perez said the Inspiration Road overpass reconstruction project will open up a new north-south corridor for Mission’s west side that will ease traffic and facilitate development in the area.

“Northwest Mission is probably one of the fastest growing areas of the Valley,” he said.

Development south of the expressway is also taking place all the way to the World Birding Center, he said, referring to Bentsen Palm Development by Mike Rhodes.

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