The traffic switch on U.S. Highway 281 slated for last week was pushed back by rain, then by sleet, then by wind and ice. Bridge beams were set on Farm to Market 306 near Gruene. Drain boxes are being set to form a retention pond beneath the road at the Seguin Avenue underpass.
U.S. Highway 281
It’s pretty tough to paint a wet surface. Lines run all over, and it just looks sloppy. So, without the ability to clearly articulate the new lanes of the highway – particularly on the southbound side, where traffic will use new road – we can’t safely put traffic on it.
With the weather clearing up in the next few days, we hope to do the switch the first week of December. Crews are planning to move traffic Tuesday, Dec. 3. That allows us to push through the wet weather and through the long holiday weekend.
Really, the northbound side isn’t moving. Southbound traffic from the Comal-Blanco county line to Blazing Meadows is being moved onto new asphalt. This is the first of a handful of traffic switches on this project as we aim to construct a four-lane divided highway where a two-lane country highway has been for years.
The first of four sets of bridge beams were set along FM 306 – this set near Goodwin Lane. The beams serve as the skeleton for what will be the westbound lanes of the highway over Goodwin Lane and the UPRR crossing nearby.
Another set of beams is nearly ready to be set nearly Hunter Road. That, too, will serve as the backbone for westbound lanes. Once the westbound bridges are built and in place, crews will begin working on the eastbound structures.
Meanwhile, most of the drain boxes and inlets are built along the roadway edges – at least between I-35 and Goodwin. The initial construction plans called for the contractor to do just one side at a time – and, at that, to work on this area after finishing work near Hunter Road – but Hunter Industries has determined to do as much of the work at once they can. That means we’re actually doing three or four phases of work (there are somewhere in the ballpark of eight phases on this project) at the same time.
Large drain boxes – about four feet tall, six feet wide and eight feet long – are being set under the roadway area of the Seguin Avenue underpass. They’re being stacked end-to-end and side-by-side to fill the entire area of roadway, forming a large drainage detention pond.
The primary goal of our project is to address congestion in the downtown area of New Braunfels by adding a lane in each direction (effectively making Seguin Avenue a four-lane road with sidewalks, turn lanes, the whole shebang. But expanding a road isn’t the only way to address congestion.
This location is known for flooding over during heavy rainstorms. Part of the problem is the 24-inch pipe funneling the storm water into the river; it’s simply too small to carry the water fast enough to clear the roadway. Because expanding the pipe would be incredibly expensive (not to mention invasive), we’re building a detention pond to hold the storm water while it clears.