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Wednesday, January 22

Major closures, major openings and more progress on Wurzbach Parkway


Beginning this week—Wednesday, actually—alternating lane closures will be used on West Avenue to allow bridge crews to begin constructing the West Avenue overpass.
 
A single lane will close between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., ensuring crews will stay out of the way of peak traffic rushes. While only single lanes will close, those driving the area should be aware the closed lane will change from day to day. Bridge crews will be setting bridge deck panels, overhang brackets, tying steel reinforcement frames, pouring the bridge deck surface and building the roadway barrier rail. The east-to-west turnaround of Wurzbach Parkway will also close
Over upcoming weeks, bridge crews will complete the West Avenue overpass bridge.
The closures on West Avenue will continue until the end of February. Project bosses hope to have the overpass finished by mid-March, though it won’t be in use until the full center segment of Wurzbach Parkway is finished.

The overhead highway sign structures have been the biggest factor behind keeping the Blanco Road overpass closed. These structures should be put up by next week, allowing the overpass to open.
While opening the Blanco Road overpass remains a priority for staff at all levels of management at TxDOT, the solution for the bridge deck surface issues and overhead highway signs that have kept crews from opening the bridge are still pending.


Crews responsible for erecting the overhead highway signs are scheduled to be on-site to do their work by the first of February. Once the overhead signs are in place we’ll be able to open up the overpass for traffic.
 
That could happen as early as the middle of next week.
 
The support structures of these signs have been the biggest reason for not opening the overpass at this point. The structures are being stored along the parkway, creating a potential safety hazard for those who might be driving along the road should the structures be left in their places. Sign-hanging crews were waiting on a new design for bolt placement, signed and sealed by an engineer, to place the signs.
 
Project supervisors explored the option of moving the structures, but the cost and resources necessary to do so simply made moving the structures off-site prohibitive.
 
The Blanco Road overpass ride quality – that is, the smoothness of the ride over the bridge – is another issue still being discussed. TxDOT is committed to ensuring the product delivered to the public meets a certain level of quality, and the bridge deck isn’t quite there yet. Officials with Liberty Mutual, the surety company that insured Ballenger Construction before that contractor went bankrupt in 2012, are discussing with TxDOT administration to determine the long-term solution for the ride issues.

The bridge deck surface may not be perfect, but it's safe. Project supervisors are intent on opening the overpass; future closures may be employed, if needed, to resolve issues with the bridge deck surface.
All other major work has been finished on the western segment. Contractors may be out cleaning up the area over the next few weeks – including addressing graffiti issues on the parkway. As you see them, please be courteous of them and slow down while the crews do their work.
 
Dirt crews will close the northbound frontage road of U.S. Highway 281 between Country Parkway and Maltsberger Lane this weekend to build an underground drain structure crossing the road. The frontage road will close Friday night at 9 p.m. and reopen in time for Monday’s morning commute.
 
Drivers in the area should use Country Parkway and Maltsberger Lane to reach their destinations; this route has been used for similar closures in the past.
 
The drain structures will connect the inlets that have been built along the outside shoulder of the frontage road with the massive culvert built between the main lanes and the frontage road near Bitters Road, improving drainage for the whole area. When the new structure is in place, road crews will build a temporary entrance ramp for traffic coming from Nakoma Drive.
 
The temporary ramp will allow crews to begin building the braided ramps to be located in the area, serving traffic driving from Nakoma and the parkway onto northbound U.S. 281 and traffic exiting U.S. 281 at Bitters Road.
 
It will also signal an uptick in activity near Nakoma Drive, where the new exit ramp to Wurzbach Parkway—which is a relocation of the current Bitters Road exit ramp—will be opened for use mid-February.
 
The center segment of the parkway, connecting West Avenue and Jones-Maltsberger, is on track to be complete in 2015. Among the last portions of that project, as anticipated today, is the completion of the parkway’s overpass at U.S. 281.
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