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Saturday, April 25

Upcoming project: Spur 53 (UTSA Boulevard)

It's official: the expansion of UTSA Boulevard between I-10 and Edward Ximines is set to begin work. In fact, crews will officially take their respective places on the job on Monday, May 4.

For those unfamiliar with the project, here's what's going on:

  • Widen UTSA Boulevard to five lanes - two in each direction plus a center left-turn lane.
  • Wider shoulders to accommodate bikes
  • Multi-use meandering path on the south side of the roadway
  • Improved drainage
There's no two-ways about it: this project is all about keeping up with the incredible growth of the area - mostly through apartment complexes trying to accommodate the increased enrollment at UTSA (seriously, it's growing out there - if you aren't a believer, check out this, this or this ... and this).

The $9 million project will take us a little more than two years to complete, with estimated completion summer 2017. We've got a new-to-us contractor on this project; this will be the first TxDOT project in the San Antonio area for SMC Contractors (a subsidiary of the much larger Curran Group, based in the Chicagoland area). They've indicated they're eager to make a great first impression with this project.

So everyone is on the same page, let's go over what we can expect for the next two years. To be completely up front, those driving through the area can expect a highly active construction zone through the duration of our work. We'll be on a five-day workweek (meaning we'll typically be off the job during weekends), and we have restricted closures to overnight only. When employed, closures will occur only between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. When we do have lane closures, we'll typically have a full week's notice - basically, expect to see those closures in the weekly lane closure report on this blog.

Heavy equipment should be equipped with a "quiet" back-up alarm, which will sound like a growl or a buzz more than the beeping sound most people are familiar with. Through the summer months we'll use water trucks to keep down the dust, and we'll be constantly on patrol to keep our barricades cleaned up.

The first round of closures will allow crews to set up barriers. Expect to see those closures mid-May, and we'll have crews really hitting the ground hard shortly thereafter. By the way, this coincides with the break between the spring term and the summer terms for UTSA students. The first phase of work will be on the south side of the road - the side of the road backed up against the Auburn Ridge subdivision. This work will include the remaining utility work, drain structure construction (which takes the longest time of the work involved with a project like this) and construction of the meandering multi-use path.

While SMC will work to keep safe walking paths available through the duration of the project, those who walk through the area - particularly UTSA students - should be careful to avoid walking through the active construction zone. It's simply unsafe to do so, and when we have pedestrians walking through the construction zone our production slows and unnecessary delays are caused.

In order to cut down on pedestrian traffic in the construction zone, and to help keep traffic driving at safe speeds, we are working with local law enforcement - including the UTSA police department - to patrol the project routinely. Keep in mind UTSA officers are fully authorized to write traffic citations, whether you're affiliated with the school or not!