Last week (Wednesday) we formally and ceremoniously celebrated the completion of the Seguin Avenue underpass. On hand were representatives of Austin Bridge & Road, the contractor who built this project. As you may recall, this is the same contractor who built the original project back in 1935.
The event was hosted by the city of New Braunfels, and Mayor Barron Casteel reminded folks just how long the project had been in the making - at least since he was still in school, referring to his college days. He thanked Rep. Doug Miller, who helped secure the funds for the project through the Texas Proposition 12 grant from the Texas State Legislature.
With other civic leaders - those from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce and others - around, the underpass was toasted. TxDOT District Engineer Mario Jorge lauded some of the engineering of the new underpass - including the nearly 800,000-pound steel structure that now carries rail traffic safely over Seguin Avenue and the 140,000 gallon detention pond under the roadway that will store stormwater to keep the road open through all conditions.
Hunter Industries will close portions of the intersection of Loop 337 and Altgelt Lane over the next two weekends. These closures will keep one lane going in each direction, but will squeeze traffic quite a bit. Folks are advised to find alternate routes where they can.
This will allow road builders to reconstruct the intersection. Once this work is complete (mid-September) traffic on Loop 337 between I-35 and Altgelt will shift onto the new asphalt on the south side of the road. Crews will only need a few weeks to rebuild the road on the north side of the road, and work should be ready to wrap up before Halloween.
Another Hunter Industries project, this one hit a snag a few weeks ago in waiting for some utilities to be moved. AT&T has been on site regularly, and report they should have their work finished by mid-September. Once that work is finished, Hunter's bridge crews will go to work on the drain structures at the Hunter Road overpass.
While Hunter waits for AT&T to get out of the way, they are working on embankments and structures for the future eastbound lanes of the bridge. They've also got the turnarounds nearly complete at Coleman and at Goodwin Lane, and local traffic may begin using those immediately. This should be helping traffic move through the project a little more smoothly.
If it weren't for the utility adjustments, this project may be finished in time for the holidays. Instead, we're still on pace to be finished early in the new year - which is still ahead of our initial schedule.
U.S. 281 Spring Branch
The temporary (and, by temporary, we mean at least 2-3 years) fix for the U.S. Post Office problem is underway. Hunter Industries (yes, those guys again) is building a "detour" around the building; the northbound lanes of U.S. 281 will simply scoot left, then right again around the building.
Crews are also finishing up work north of the post office, completing the future northbound lanes of the highway. If all goes according to plan, we'll be moving northbound traffic onto the northbound lanes at the Coyote Ridge area and up through to FM 306. As the southbound lanes are finished - traffic in both directions are using the southbound side for most of the project - this will effectively split traffic to its final path.
To be clear: we won't have two lanes in each direction until work is complete (end of the year). Until then, we'll have a single lane each way, but those lanes will be on the final location of the roadway.
On the south end of the project (more or less from FM 311 south to the river) we're hoping to have traffic moved over nearly as quick; we have a few utilities to adjust and some finishing touches to some bridge structures to wrap up.
Again, all told ... we're hoping to be finished with this project around the end of the year.
- The Walnut Avenue expansion - we're calling it the "Walnut Hill" job - should start up this fall (likely late fall, like November). Right now we're still getting utilities cleared out of the way.
- The I-35 Conrads/Kohlenberg project - which will realign the entrance and exit ramps between FM 306 and Conrads/Kohlenberg on the northeast end of the county - could start as early as October.
- FM 1101 between Hwy 46 and FM 36 is getting a continuous center turn lane, sidewalks and some space for bikes (handy with three schools along the route). Though the project can start in November, we're expecting the start date to perhaps push back to January. Right now utilities are being moved.