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Thursday, September 10

Coming sooner than we thought - Wurzbach Parkway

One of the oldest mistakes a journalist - and a blogger - makes is to "bury the lead". To avoid doing that we'll cut to the chase:

Wurzbach Parkway over U.S. 281 will be open and in use next week.

Well, the eastbound lanes over U.S. 281 will be opened, at least. The westbound lanes will open later this month, allowing our engineers and staff with the city of San Antonio to develop some strategies with the influx of traffic anticipated when the parkway meets Wurzbach Road.

This soft opening is some two months ahead of the contracted date and a few weeks earlier than expected when we talked with the Express-News about opening dates earlier this month. Williams Brothers Construction, the contractor working on this job and one of the largest road-building companies in Texas, has accelerated work over the last several months in order to move their resources off this project and onto projects set to start later this fall. There is not an early completion bonus on this project.

Drivers using the new roadway should remain alert to the presence of crews working on the the project through the fall months as punch-list items such as laying sod or grass seed and other aesthetic work are completed.

Last week Williams Brothers opened the new northbound U.S. Hwy 281 exit ramp to Bitters Road, allowing us to shut down the old ramp and work on what will be the northbound exit to Wurzbach Parkway. Remaining work on that new ramp will finish up next week.

Nighttime drivers along Hwy 281 have seen main lane closures each night this week as paving crews resurface and re-stripe the road. This will realign the Hwy 281 main lanes to their final configuration, solving the issues folks have had with entering the lanes from Bitters Road (on the southbound side) and Nakoma Drive (driving north) by adding a dedicated lane for traffic from the frontage road to enjoy as they move into traffic.

During full main lane closures, traffic will exit Nakoma (northbound) and Bitters (southbound), pass through the intersections and re-enter the highway. Police officers will help manage traffic flow through the area. This resurfacing work should wrap up by Friday morning.

Meanwhile, concrete crews are putting some finishing touches on a few culverts and concrete barriers throughout the project. Electricians are tying their lanes to provide power to the street lights on Wurzbach and preparing the traffic signals at Jones-Maltsberger and at West Avenue for traffic in new directions. The city of San Antonio will assume maintenance and timing of the new signals.

The last remaining major item, then, is the turnarounds at Nakoma Drive. The north-to-south turnaround was closed and a span torn out to help build the new Wurzbach Parkway exit for northbound Hwy 281 traffic. As part of the work on the parkway - and as a way to manage traffic on eastbound Wurzbach Parkway headed for northbound U.S. 281 - a new south-to-north turnaround at Nakoma is being constructed. These turnarounds are still being completed and will open early October. With the parkway opened, Williams Brothers will be dedicating increased resources to the turnarounds.

The final configuration for traffic moving between Wurzbach Parkway and U.S. 281 keys on the frontage roads of Hwy 281. Eastbound traffic will turn around at the Nakoma intersection and use the northbound frontage road to reach northbound Hwy 281; westbound traffic will head north to Bitters, turn around, and use the southbound frontage road to reach southbound Hwy 281. Here's a look: