At left, City of South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty, along with city council members and personnel, celebrated the start of the city's Padre Boulevard Median, Boardwalk and Sidewalk Improvement Project with a groundbreaking ceremony. Alana Hernandez/Valley Morning Star

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — From construction zone signs and hardhats to cones and lane closures, recent motorists and visitors are bound to see the progress being made on this coastal city’s latest project.

South Padre Island council members and personnel held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the Convention Centre for the town’s Padre Boulevard Median, Boardwalk and Sidewalk Improvement Project.

According to city officials, the project will continue to improve traffic, pedestrian mobility and public safety along Padre Boulevard.

Medians will be installed throughout Padre Boulevard from Kingfish Street to the Convention Centre and sidewalks extending from the Convention Centre to north of Breaker Boulevard.

The project will also include sidewalk improvements, traffic lights, crosswalks and two boardwalks.

The boardwalks will be developed over the wetlands, which city officials say will allow the Island to keep its natural habitat while letting active residents and guests enjoy a continual accessibility.

“We’re moving forward on our Venue Tax Projects and this is one of many,” SPI Mayor Patrick McNulty said. “I’m honored to be a part of the group that’s getting these projects moving forward.”

McNulty said the project has been in the works for many years and its inception started with former Mayor Robert “Bob” Pinkerton and former Councilman, Alderman Rick Ridolfi.

Current medians located from Dolphin Street to the Padre Boulevard 700 block were installed in 2007.

“I’d like to thank them for their vision of this project,” McNulty said during the ceremony. “I’d also like to thank the current council for passing the resolution to make this project a reality.”

Cost and timeline

Construction of the Padre Boulevard Median, Boardwalk and Sidewalk Improvement Project began Jan. 2 and is estimated to be completed within 15 months, weather permitting.

The project is estimated to cost $7.5 million.

According to city officials, the project is funded through the Venue Tax Fund and is part of the city’s Venue Tax Project, which was approved by South Padre Island voters on Nov. 8, 2016.

“Thank you to city staff and contractors for working diligently on this,” McNulty said during the ceremony. “I would like to thank everyone for attending and all of the previous council members who have worked on these projects. I hope to see everyone at the ribbon-cutting ceremony next year.”

More upcoming projects

According to McNulty, the next Venue Project for this council will be breaking ground on the city’s Quite Water Sports Park this fall.

Last year, city officials signed a property lease to develop an area that would be designated for the wind and water sports park, which will include restroom facilities, parking spaces and launch sites for paddle boarders, kayaks and wind surfers.

City officials are working with Hanson Professional Services Inc. to perform surveys, obtain necessary permits and complete a final design of the park that will be used for construction.

During a City Council meeting held Jan. 22, the board approved and authorized City Manager Randy Smith to execute a contract with Hanson Professional Services Inc. to develop the park.