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Tuesday, December 13

The New Braunfels Ave bridge work

A few months ago - late August or early September - folks in the Government Hills area started seeing orange signs pop up around the New Braunfels Ave bridge over I-35, marking the start of a long-awaited repair to that bridge.
The bridge suffered damage after it was hit a few years ago by an 18-wheeler. Due to the damage we had to close the right southbound lane of New Braunfels Avenue over I-35 and the pedestrian access on that side of the bridge. The northbound side remained at two lanes and had a sidewalk in place for pedestrian access.
Earlier this year we were able to get the funds approved to make the needed repairs. CRG was awarded the $5 million project to replace - not just repair - the bridge.
The first phase of work is to remove the entirety of the southbound half of the bridge, moving traffic over to one lane each way on what was the northbound side - basically what you see out there today (and on the graphic to the right). While this is in place we'll have just one left-turn lane on each frontage road to avoid any conflicts with folks vying for their spot as they try to cross over I-35. All pedestrian traffic will continue to use the existing sidewalk on the east side of the bridge.
Some folks might look at the lanes we've got closed and wonder why we're not doing anything. It's a darned good question. With traffic moved, CRG really can't do anything on the project until that old southbound segment is removed and demolished. Before we let them demo that portion of the bridge (which will require a full closure of I-35, when it happens) we require they submit a demolition plan that walks us through a step-by-step run of the work. It's pretty basic stuff - most demo plans look the same - but it's a requirement we have that the contractor have that plan submitted and reviewed.
As of last week we still have not received the demo plan for this project. With lane closure restrictions starting this weekend, the earliest this work could be done is mid-January. That would at least show some progress and justify the lane closure now in place.
Though we're not quite ready to demo that section of bridge, we're leaving the closure in place as it is. Why? Two reasons. First, the volume of traffic across the bridge isn't so much we're not restricting traffic flow any more than was already done by the damaged bridge. Second, the cost to restripe the bridge and move barrier would make the whole thing some "wasted money".
In the meantime we're still pushing the contractor for those demo plans and charging time against the contract, which means they're getting squeezed to get going soon or they'll start running into financial issues on the project (liquidated damages).
This configuration will be in place until summer 2017, when we'll basically just flip traffic over onto the new side of the bridge and wreck and complete the northbound side you're driving on today.
All told, the project should finish up around the end of 2017, if all goes well.