Wednesday, March 13

New construction here, there, everywhere....

Since the new year, more than a half-dozen significant projects have started and a handful are on deck to get going in the next several weeks.

Just so you're up-to-date, here's a run-down on what's been started lately:

Kerr County
In Kerrville, we're widening the bridge on Francisco Lemmons Street, making it more friendly for pedestrians and bikers. That's a short project, but it's major for those who live in the area.

Not to be outdone in the county, the folks in Ingram have welcomed the expansion of Hwy 39, running right through the commerce hub of the laid-back town. Though we began in January, the contractor didn't have resources committed to the project until late February. Most of the work (for now) is to be around the Johnson Creek bridge. Work will conclude late 2014.

Kendall County
The Main Street Boerne project hit a snag over the weekend as crews discovered some utility lines that were a few inches from where they had expected. However, work continues to be on pace to finish on schedule. Work to widen the main street bridge over Cibolo Creek continues on pace, but traffic disruptions are heaviest with work on the crosswalk and traffic signal upgrades. If you're headed for downtown Boerne this week at all (heck, all summer), plan on small delays for this work. That said, we're going to try staying out of the way for the biggest events.

Comal County
Perhaps the biggest news in Comal County is the start of the FM 306 enhancements between I-35 and Hunter Road. Through the summer, the biggest impact will be right at Hunter Road. Once the right-of-way is prepared and barricades are set up (which should be happening over the next 2 weeks or so), crews will eliminate the left-turn lanes off FM 306 onto Hunter. That's going to make left turns pretty rough, and cause some backups along the corridor. If you're headed to Gruene for anything, we recommend taking Common Street and taking a right on Old FM 306, which should lead you where you need to go.

We're also working on turn lanes and passing lanes on FM 306 out toward Canyon Lake, and we're expanding (significantly) US Hwy 281 up in Spring Branch. But work on those projects hasn't interfered with traffic very much. If you're out that way, be careful to watch out for trucks and equipment, though. Remember: safety first!

The expansion of the railroad overpass on Business 46 in New Braunfels is in full swing. We're working on support structures for the future retaining walls right now. As agreed upon between our engineers and the city of New Braunfels, though, we'll be taking a break here as summer gets going - and we'll stay out of that project until summer ends. When we get going again in the fall, though, we'll have to close the road completely for about five months. More on that when the time comes.

Bexar County
The biggest project that's started in the last three months in Bexar County is on Loop 1604 at Marbach Road, where we're building an overpass. That project has stayed out of the way of traffic for the most part, with occasional overnight lane closures. As the summer comes, so will the bigger work. Expect some delays over the summer - the biggest overnight.

As was reported towared the end of last year, we had three major projects halted because of a contractor defaulting and, later, filing for bankruptcy. Then, just a week ago, the Express-News correctly reported intentions to resume the I-10 Huebner project in the next week or so. We're still planning on that, in fact. As I discussed before, we're waiting on the ink to dry on some contracts before we can put shovel to dirt again. Here's a brief run-down of projects affected by the Ballenger Construction debacle (because I get asked about these daily):

  • I-10 Huebner. A new contractor has been named - Webber Construction - and final agreements between TxDOT, the Ballenger bonding company, Webber and any smaller subcontractors are being worked out. The goal is to resume work next week, but contracts need to be final before that can happen. Expect work by the end of March. Until an official construction schedule is submitted, we have no speculation as to what kind of time frame the 30-month project will be following as we move forward.
  • Wurzbach Parkway - East End. We're waiting for agreements to be finalized before the Ballenger bonding company releases the name of a new contractor. We're hoping to have this segment - running from Jones-Maltsberger to Wetmore - back in action by early April. This project has about a year of work left on it, so expect to see this one wrapped up early 2014.
  • Wurzbach Parkway - West End. Same story as the other end of the parkway. Some chatter in the industry we'll have the same contractor on both segments of the parkway, and that's helpful. Only about two months' worth of work was left on this project. Once we get underway (I expect late April or early May, at the latest), look for about 8 or 9 weeks of work before this segment of the parkway - running from Blanco Road to West Avenue - will be opened.
  • Fred-Med. Because of delays caused by utility conflicts, TxDOT District Engineer Mario Medina was able to keep this project out of the grips of the Ballenger default. There's been a pile of paperwork (all required) done behind-the-scenes, and TxDOT staff has this project ready to receive bids this spring. We should have a new contractor selected by late spring, and we hope to start putting shovels to the ground by mid-summer. Again, thanks to Mario's quick actions and hard work, this project was rescued (is that word appropriate?) from the whole mess that unfolded toward the end of last year.
  • 1604-151. This project was technically still under contract when Ballenger defaulted. However, we're working on a modified design that will allow us to meet our agency goals while remaining a responsible steward of our state's natural resources. This process is well underway, and no specifics on a re-start date have yet been determined. No details on the modified design are known either, though we anticipate a design that carries lanes of Hwy 151 over Loop 1604 (the previous plan carried Hwy 151 under Lp 1604). We're exploring a ton of options to expedite this project, so speculation beyond this is simply impossible and inappropriate.
There you have it. That's everything that has started, has re-started or is about to re-start in the San Antonio area. We'll have other projects in Bexar County and surrounding counties ready for action later this year. Stay tuned to hear more when the time comes!