Border West Expressway project will give unique look across the border
EL PASO, Texas (CBS) —
Part of the new Border West Expressway will peer over the border fence.
Bridge columns have already started going up near the Spur 1966 bridge.
"Bridge 17 is about 1.3 miles long and it's super interesting because it's on the other side of the border fence but not across the border, so it sits on the levee of the Rio Grande," said Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson Jennifer Wright.
Wright said the project had to stay in the United States for practical purposes.
"The Texas Department of Transportation can't spend any money in another country or even in another state," she said.
Because crews needed to access the other side of the border fence for construction, Wright said there needed to be a lot of coordination on the project.
"It deals with the international boundary and the water commission, so there are multiple agencies that are involved, CBP, who are already on patrol, and so there's a lot of coordination that's required with this bridge span in particular because of its location," Wright said.
Crews can only access the construction zone from a few points, each of which is guarded to make sure only authorized personnel enter and exit.
"This is really a truly unique situation," Wright said. "It's definitely unique for TxDOT."
More than 120 columns are needed to hold the bridge up and many of them were built on the other side of the border fence.
"We completed over 90 columns on since January on it. This is been the focus of Border West this year," Wright said.
Along with the international aspect, one of the challenges construction crews faced was building bridge columns in the levee itself. Wright said about 15 of the columns had to be drilled down about 100 feet into the earth so they wouldn't shift over time.
But once the bridge is completed, Wright said it will offer drivers a one-of-a-kind ride with an unobstructed view of Mexico.
"It is just gonna be an amazing and fun road to drive when it is done. It really is going to be, I think, one of the more exciting bits of roadway one can drive when you veer out over the levee like that," Wright said.