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Thursday, May 16

All the latest on Comal County projects....

Over the last two weeks we've seen quite a bit of change on FM 306 near Historic Gruene, we've held an informal open house on the U.S. 281 Comal project through Spring Branch and we've pushed forward in a Seguin Avenue project near downtown New Braunfels. To make sure we can all keep things straight, here's a quick run-down of what's happening:

Seguin Avenue

Austin Bridge Company continues its work to widen Seguin Avenue under the UPRR railroad overpass, spending most of the efforts firming up the behind-the-scenes structure for the new retaining wall. We're actually keeping the old retaining wall materials due to the historic value of the stone and the aesthetic match to the area's ambiance. (Yes, we do try and make roads not only functional, but attractive!)

The historic stone used as a retaining wall for this crossing for several years is being kept, and will be used as a facade on the new retaining wall being built by crews now.
Our guys have also been drilling holes for support shafts that will hold up the new overpass structure. Remember: we'll be shutting down Seguin Avenue at this overpass on or around September 9, and the road will remain closed for about six months. That will allow us to build the new overpass without delays.

Between now and then, expect no lane closures through the summer - we want to keep that route to the tubes free and clear!

US 281 Comal

First of all, thank you to Comal County Commissioner Jan Kennady for hosting an awesome open house at the Bulverde-Spring Branch Library last week. We met Thursday evening with nearly 100 folks from the area and discussed issues such as project funding, intersection locations and other questions brought up by the crowd.

Surprisingly, the biggest question was something we don't have an answer for: where will the Post Office be relocated to? Commissioner Kennady is working on finding an answer, and will notify folks when an answer is found.

In the meantime, check the project Web page Friday for an aerial view of what the project will look like.
As for funding ... we're using non-tolled traditional resources. Comal County has kicked in a large chunk of money to make sure this project was able to happen. These lanes will be non-tolled, free roadway lanes.

FM 306

The easy update on this is the Canyon Lake passing-lane job: Hunter Industries is pretty much done with all the underground work, and we're moving to the phases of building the subgrade to pave the new highway lanes out there. We've actually finished - totally - some of the passing lanes on the east end of the project and only need to stripe them appropriately. That's on deck. The important thing to know is we're on target to finish that work by the end of summer as scheduled.
The roadway expansion is finished, but crews still need to re-stripe the lanes to include the new passing lanes on FM 306 west of Purgatory Road.
The tougher update is the expansion project near Gruene....

Over the last two weeks we've seen massive traffic delays during work to pave new roadway lanes as we prepared for the major traffic shift that took place late last week. This week - the first full week with the new traffic alignment - we experienced some growing pains as the project area got stabilized for the work that's set to take much of the remainder of 2013. Between making the traffic changes this week and moving equipment around, plus having a milling machine to tear up pavement that's in the way of scheduled work (not to mention the haul trucks that have been in-and-out of the roadway to take away the torn up asphalt left by the milling machine), the week has been less-than-pleasant for drivers in the area.
A milling machine obliterates the old pavement along FM 306 between I-35 and Gruene. The torn-up pavement is poured directly into a haul truck and taken to a quarry off-site. This operation - including the constate coming and going of the trucks - amplified traffic troubles along this route over the last week.
The good news: we think Hunter Industries has the project area stabilized so the bulk of the work happening is now away from the traveling lanes. That means the only thing that's really hindering anything is the loss of the left-turn arrow at Hunter Road, which is generally the road folks use to get to Historic Gruene.

So here's what we're doing: we've got signs alerting folks coming from I-35 to use Common Street to get to Gruene. We've got signs on the way that will clearly mark Common Street, and help route folks onto Old FM 306 from Common to get where they're going. Our contractor has been making a few suggestions on improving traffic flow in the area, and we think things should improve for the daily driver soon.

Until a detour sign is built and installed, this electronic message board will direct traffic headed to Gruene from I-35 onto Common Street.
We're also doing what we can to push Gruene-bound traffic from I-35 onto "The Loop" - Look 337. The Loop will allow for a near-direct route into Gruene that's unhindered by construction. It's safer for everyone, and safety is our top priority.

We're also monitoring traffic flow, and gathering with just about every major player in the area we can think of to determine action steps to help improve the situation.

While all this is happening for now, remember this project will be active for the better part of the next three years. The first half or more of that, traffic on FM 306 between I-35 and Gruene is going to be really challenging. Honestly, the next phase of work is only going to prove even more challenging than what we've got out there right now.

But we're going to keep working with the folks with the city of New Braunfels, Hunter Industries, Comal County and Historic Gruene to find ways to help folks get where they're going.