Work has begun on a proposed direct connector that will link a portion of Interstate 37 in Annaville to the Port of Corpus Christi.

Ballenger Construction Co. of Harlingen began work Monday on the $23.9 million highway project on I-37, between McKinzie Road and Carbon Plant Road. The project consists of building a truck exit ramp, or flyovers, from southbound I-37 to Carbon Plant Road (Joe Fulton Corridor). The ramp will actually begin at McKinzie Road and will be designed to carry large 18-wheeler trucks headed to the Port of Corpus Christi and businesses along the harbor.

The contractor has set concrete barriers along the southbound main lanes and the frontage road. The first phase of work will consist of building the foundations and the columns that will support the flyover ramp.

The second phase will consist of building the flyover. This work will require nighttime closures of I-37.

The aesthetics for the project will include a U.S. flag on the retaining wall of the ramp and Armed Forces Emblems on the columns. The patriotic theme was chosen because of a veteran's cemetery being proposed for Carbon Plant Road.

TxDOT officials ask that travelers watch out for construction crews and vehicles in the area.