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La Salle opens new Cotulla bypass
A new road now connects the north-south interstate highway through La Salle County to a state highway leading east and a rural route towards the Gulf Coast, relieving downtown Cotulla of its commercial traffic logjams.
La Salle County Judge Joel Rodriguez, Commissioners Raul Ayala, Erasmo Ramirez Jr., Jack Alba and Noel Niavez were joined by emergency responders, law enforcement, engineers and construction company representatives, in a brief ceremony Wednesday, October 21, at the intersection of the new Cotulla truck bypass loop with the IH-35 access road to cut the ribbon signaling the thoroughfare open for traffic.
The three-year project was engineered by S&B Infrastructure, built by Anderson Columbia, and is designed to divert heavy commercial traffic away from downtown Cotulla. The road connects the interstate with Hwy 97 near the intersection of FM 624 on the east side of town and opens the way for new commercial and residential development between the city and the county airport.
At a total cost of $14.6 million, the road and its bridge crossing the Union Pacific Railroad line as well as the elevation of the interstate access road are paid for entirely with funds approved by La Salle County voters in a March 2015 election to issue certificates of obligation. The county judge said this week that La Salle has been paying towards the debt for the past five years and still has approximately $5.4 million remaining in accessible bond funds, as voters initially approved $20 million for the project. Commissioners have agreed to examine other county construction needs and to prioritize them with a view to adding public facilities and government office buildings with the remaining monies from the bond sale.
Commissioners voted last year to name the new bypass after the current county judge in recognition of his work in pushing for funding and construction and for his support of the economic development that is expected in the area.
The four-lane road falls under the auspices of the Texas Department of Transportation, which will shortly abandon its control over the former state route on Main Street in favor of the new bypass. Cotulla city officials have indicated they expect the city to annex the real estate covered by the Joel Rodriguez Jr. Loop in the near future in order to reap property and sales tax revenues from new development and commercial enterprise in the area.