Queen Isabella Causeway

Queen Isabella Causeway

Located in southern Cameron County, Texas, the two-mile long Queen Isabella Causeway is the only road connecting South Padre Island, Texas to the mainland. The Causeway was opened in 1974 and replaced the previous bridge which had also been named Queen Isabella Causeway. A central section of the original causeway has been removed and it has been renamed the Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier.

The Causeway is the longest bridge in Texas, stretching 2.37 miles (3.81 km) across the Laguna Madre.

2001 Causeway Collapse

In the early morning hours of September 15, 2001, four loaded barges crashed into one of the Queen Isabella Causeway's support columns traveling at 2/10ths of 1 mile per hour. Three 80-foot (24.4 m) sections of the bridge fell into the water, leaving a large gap in the roadway. The collapsed sections were just next to the highest point of the causeway, making it difficult for approaching drivers to notice. Eight people were killed as their cars fell 85 feet (26 m) into the water. Five vehicles were recovered from the water along with three survivors.

The collapse had a significant economic impact on the region since the Causeway is the only road connecting the island to the mainland. The bridge also carried electricity lines and fresh water to the island. State officials brought in ferries to temporarily carry cars across the Laguna Madre.

In addition to the three bridge sections that toppled in the original accident, two adjacent sections were also replaced due to structural damage. The Causeway was reopened on November 21, 2001. Several safety features were added to the structure. The support columns were reinforced, and a $12 million fiber optic driver warning system was installed. The tragedy did not gain significant media attention because of the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Two years after the reopening, the causeway was renamed the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge to honor the victims of the tragedy.

ee also

*List of bridge disasters

External links

*Handbook of Texas|id=PP/hgp9|name=Port Isabel, Texas
*Handbook of Texas|id=QQ/ggq1|name=Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier
* [http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelease.2001-11-14.0443 Governor's Press Release on Reopened Causeway]


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