Tuesday, November 18

Wurzbach Parkway progress

After a bit of a haiatus on posts for this project, it's time to get a more in-depth run-down of what's happening on Wurzbach Parkway.

First, to answer a question that's come from a variety of places: will the frontage roads between West Avenue and U.S. 281 open in time to be used as a detour for the West Avenue work by the city?

The short answer: no.

Longer answer: First of all, the work on West Avenue involves the city of San Antonio, not TxDOT. Our roadway projects was not intended to be considered as a viable detour route, as it has always been scheduled for completion mid- to late-2015. We cannot change that schedule to appease an outside project like that.

Before the frontage roads can be open, we still have work on drain inlets to finish. We have barrier rails that are yet incomplete. We don't have a final surface  of asphalt down yet. We don't have street signs up (they've not yet been fabricated, even). We don't have pavement markings down. We don't have our overhead highway sign supports finished.

While the roadway is, for the most part, in place and we have concrete barriers ... we are still a long way from having things ready for traffic. What's more, if we were to open the frontage roads out-of-sequence, the contractor would be assuming liability for the drivers on the roadway. If you've met a contractor before, you already know how unlikely that would be.

So, that's the longer answer ... but it can be summed up simply: The Wurzbach Parkway frontage roads between West Avenue and U.S. Highway 281 will not be a viable detour route for the city's work on West Avenue.

Alright, next topic: the eastern segment, spanning Jones-Maltsberger to Wetmore.

Our pavement and materials lab is testing the concrete and the substructure (that's all the dirt under the concrete) for the approach slabs on the parkway as it approaches Starcrest from either side. We know it's deficient, but we're trying to determine whether it's a problem with materials, with the way it was constructed or if it's a design issue. It's not about to crumble any time soon, but we want to be sure the product we deliver is quality and is built to last.

The reason for the testing and the forensics investigation by the lab is to deterrmine the source of the cause, which will determine whose checking account will cover the fix. Once that is determined, work on the fix will begin in earnest. Until the fault is determined, work on the entire stretch of parkway between Jones-Maltsberger and Wetmore is on hold.

Once we have the fix complete and the parkway is OK to carry traffic, we'll switch traffic over and begin letting folks use the parkway. Well, with the exception of the left lane (in both directions) at the city's brush site. We still have a concrete median barrier to finish up, which can't be done until traffic is using the parkway itself.

Best-case scenario, we'll have the parkway opened up between Jones-Maltsberger and Wetmore early 2015.

The final segment, spanning West Avenue to Jones-Maltsberger, is on pace to be finished mid-2015. Right now the bulk of work is on the U.S. 281 area: inlets are being built and completed; electrical connections for lighting is going in; bridge crews are busy  on the overpass at U.S. 281; road crews are getting ready to build the new ramps on the southbound side between Bitters Road and Nakoma Drive.

The southbound ramps will be built and in use before the northbound ramps will be. That's mainly because of the bridge work (which is ongoing) for the braided ramp going to Bitters Road and coming from Nakoma Drive on the northbound side. Again, that work is ongoing but will take a bit longer to finish than the work on the southbound side will. The new Wurzbach Parkway exit, which will be about where the current/old Bitters Road exit ramp is at, has a barrier rail that needs to be worked on before it will be ready to open. Again, the work on the southbound side will be done before that's ready to be complete.

The turnarounds at Nakoma Drive will likely be among the last items to be finished on the project, as they require work to reach the final phase before they can be done.

Just for emphasis: we are on pace to have the final segment of the Parkway complete mid-2015.