CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi City Council approved a construction contract to redo the surface of Leopard Street and its underground utilities.
Nowadays, most of Corpus Christi knows Leopard Street as a dusty, barren road past its prime. But believe it or not, it was once considered one of the main entryways into the city.
"Before I-37 was built, this was the main Highway 9, they called it back in my time," said City Councilman Billy Lerma. "So, it hasn't had a facelift in quite a while."
Improvements to Leopard Street are long overdue, with the last performance of maintenance on the road taking place almost 20 years ago.
Leopard Street reconstruction was originally on Bond 2012, but was continuously delayed because of the Harbor Bridge Project.
Corpus Christi Engineering Services plans to rework Leopard Street with new asphalt, four lanes with a continuous turn lane, ADA-accessible sidewalks, and well-lit crosswalks, all of which will help students cross the road to nearby Roy Miller High School.
"It's going to be completely reconstructing the roadway and then we're going to be making better accommodation for pedestrians," said Jeff Edmonds, Director of the Engineering Services.
On the topic of the underground utilities, Edmonds said, "Whenever we do one of these road projects, we want to be sure that the underground utilities have an equivalent life to what your surface improvements are going to have."
Edmonds said the City of Corpus Christi is coordinating with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) to make sure they know the city's plans for the area.
However, there is one more bump in the road: City Council isn't sure whether Leopard Street is owned by the city or TXDOT.
"If TXDOT owns it, we will probably fix it," Lerma said of Leopard Street, "but we will ask for a reimbursement from TXDOT."
The project is valued at $7,800,000 and would span from Crosstown Expressway to Palm Boulevard. Construction is projected to begin on Leopard Street in a couple of months and that construction will be completed in phases by Spring 2024.
Future projects on the west side Leopard Street will also be voted on by City Council soon.