Wednesday, April 19, 2017


By Juan Montoya
In his spiel for before the Cameron County Court of Commissioners, City of Brownsville planner and hike-and-bike trail guru Ramiro Gonzalez revealed some telling facts about the Lower Rio Grande Valley Active Transportation and Tourism Plan he was trying to get the county to adopt.

Now, semantics is very important here. The item placed on the agenda by County Judge Eddie Treviño did not word his item as the court expressing its"support."

He wanted the court to "adopt" the plan. This was not a resolution which did not bind, as other cities in the county had done. If in the future the plan that was to be implemented by a executive officer and coordinator of the Rails To Trails Association, they would be hired at a cost of between $90,000 to $110,000 to be paid by the participant cities and the county.

Then there was also the commitment required of the county that might include a cash "participation," potential transfer of county property and right-of-way, purchase of the properties abutting drainage and irrigation canals belonging to different districts, and an assumption of liability should someone
fall into one of these ditches or otherwise hurt themselves.

As he fenced questions raised by the commissioners, Gonzalez was careful to gloss over issues surrounding the plan which envisions connecting Cameron County cities through a 129-mile system of hike-and-bike trails.
One of these was the planned building of a bike ramp over the Queen Isabella Causeway. On July, 29, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the City of Brownsville is the only community in Texas to receive $10 million under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Program.

In its application, the city stated that it planned to expand the width of the Queen Isabella Causeway by about four feet to accommodate a 14-foot-wide, two-way pedestrian and bike pathway to South Padre Island. According to the fact sheet, the causeway for pedestrian and bikers will be one of the longest in the United States and the first of its kind in the state of Texas.

However, under questioning by Pct. 2 commissioner Alex Dominguez, Gonzalez admitted that the plan had not been approved by either the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority (CCRMA) or the Texas Dept. of Transportation.
"They have been at all our meetings..." Gonzalez started.
"That's not my question," Dominguez said.
"The San-Benito Harlingen MPO and the Brownsville MPO already adopted this plan. TxDot does not adopt plans," Gonzalez said.
"So 10 communities and the MPOs have adopted the plan, Right now the only entity that has not adopted the plan is Cameron County?," Treviño ased.
"Yes, sir."

Under further questioning by Dominguez, Gonzalez said the CCRMA had performed studies that gave the Queen Isabella bike/ped trial three options, one that cost $2 million, another $9 million and another $25 million to construct the bike/ped ramp if they can get TxDot support. Under the $2 millioon plan, one of the two lanes would be reduced in space and bicycle barriers would be installed to protect bikers. Under the $9 plan in the city's application for the TIGER grant, a four feet extension of the roadway would be added to accommodate a 14-foot-wide, two-way pedestrian and bike pathway. The $25 million option would see the construction of a separate causeway limited only to bicycles and pedestrians.

"Didn't TxDot say that that bridge could not support any more weight?" Pct. 3 commissioner David Garza.
"I think we're digressing here," Gonzalez countered.
"But isn't that what they said at the last meeting?,"" Garza persisted.
"It's my understanding as of today that is true, and we're using that as an example," Gonzalez said.
"I've heard that some things from TxDoT, that TxDot doesn't have this in their long-range plan," added Dominguez.

"We are not asking $1 from this county," Gonzalez said. "Se haven't asked anybody for a dollar. In fact...
"Didn't you...I was at the same meting you were at in at Laguna Vista...and I understand that you did ask for money and I understand that you were at a few other meetings and that you did ask money...," Garza said.
"Let me clarify that," Gonzalez said."
(At this point Treviño intervened and asked Garza to allow Gonzalez the time to answer the question.)
"You know when he says something that is a misstatement, judge, I am going to question it because we were both at the same meeting at which he made a request to the city for money..." Garza replied.

"That is exactly what I was going to say, commissioner," Gonzalez said. "That is part of the process...we formulate a plan, and if we need some funding we come back (to undertake an economic impact study) and we did come back to ask these communities to participate...The Island said no, we said Ok. Laguna Vista did participate. That's part of the process, if we need some funding, we come back. If we need some funding, we come back..."

"I just wanting to make that when you make a statement that you had not asked, that I was there and you did ask," Garza said.
"You're absolutely right," Gonzalez admitted.


Anonymous said...

So what?!

Anonymous said...

Too much "inside baseball" here. Not interesting, juan!

Manuel Perez said...

Nobody reads this shit, juanito. Write about the godammned bars, bro. about loose broads, too

Anonymous said...

Some of us see this new addition to the bay bridge as new fishing piers. Just how many citizens will benefit from this million dollar investment? Sounds to me that Ramiro is doing the dirty work for Rose Gowen. Does anyone know how many people might use this trail if built? Does anyone know how many jobs this might create? I very seldom see any bikes on the "bike lanes" along 6th and 7th streets....unless Rose is closing the city for one of her bike events. And just what event does she have in mind for the bay bridge and the county???? Behind this expenditure is surely an event!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Juan, flash! saw a fat guy on a bike yesterday that looked like Blimp. Is he pro-Gowen? Wow. Blimp-on-a-Bike.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else noticed how the bikers and runners on the bike trails are always way more fit and attractive than your average Brownsville lardass. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Stop wasting tax payers monies on bike lines on city streets that are never used. We already have many miles of established bike trails.

Big worm said...

People need to wake up she's not dumb Gowen found a niche of voters that will vote and in turn keeps her hand in the cookie jar.If you really want change stop crying get off your fking asses and vote.

Anonymous said...

Stop crying about the naked tub of lard you see in the mirror every day, get off your fat asses and bike. It's that simple. The ability and opportunity has been provided to you. Methinks there are a lot of fatasses who are too scared to test their bodies and just want to complain about those who have made an amazing change for themselves. And no it did not cost $1000's in gym memberships. Just walking and biking on the trails that have been provided to you, free to use. Make the positive change now