Story and photo by Pamela Price
This article originally appeared in the Leon Springs Community News (May 2010 edition)
Bexar County Public Works had planned to begin significant improvements to Boerne Stage Road from Cross Mountain to the IH-10 intersection this September. However, due to a decision to make further changes to improve drainage capacity along the route, the project will not go out to bid until the first quarter of 2011.
According to Anna Esquivel, a civil engineering assistant with Bexar County’s Infrastructure Services Department, the project now bears a $10.7 million price tag. This is a $2.5 million increase over the last estimate.
“The new numbers reflects significant price increases related to the channelization,” said Esquivel. “We’re working with a 100-year flood plan, and we knew that we needed to improve drainage even further. Flood control funds came available, so we’re finalizing the project plans now.”
Bexar County’s Flood Control Program and Capital Improvement Projects fund the project, designed to improve both water drainage and traffic flow along the roadway, once a part of a multi-state auto route known as the Old Spanish Trail. TCB, Inc. serves as the contractor for the project; AECOM is the consultant.
Rapid growth along Boerne Stage Road has doubled traffic since 2000. This fact, together with difficulties encountered by emergency crews when Leon Creek floods and public demand, initially sparked the county’s decision to make improvements.
Plans for the project include raising the roadway, improving the pavement, adding turn lanes to improve traffic flow, upgrading signals at the IH-10 west frontage road, increasing the roadside ditch capacity, and adding drainage systems. Also planned are new, six-foot shoulders on each side of the road.
According to a December 2008 preliminary engineering report produced by TCB, Inc., the county deems bicycle activity along the road “moderate.” Thus, while no formal new bike lane is planned, existing signage encouraging drivers to share the road with bikes will be restored. Esquivel noted that the six-foot shoulder should accommodate cyclists in a manner similar to a bike lane.
The current plan does not include the addition of pedestrian sidewalks, although Esquivel noted that the road will be engineered in such a way that either the county or city could “easily come back to put in sidewalks later” where warranted after the project’s completion.
Area residents were briefed on the project in an October 2009 public meeting held at Leon Springs Baptist Church. Precinct 3 county commissioner Kevin Wolff and other county officials met with approximately 45 citizens, most of them property owners along Boerne Stage Road. In March, David R. Wegmann, capital projects manager for Bexar County Infrastructure Service, provided an email update to the Leon Springs Business Association.
“We plan to have one more public meeting right before construction begins,” said Esquivel.
Given the scale and nature of the project, its proximity to a culturally significant site on the route, and the fact that Leon Creek is in a contributing zone for the Edwards Aquifer, advance approval and permits were required by several entities including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Texas Historical Commission, and the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, among others.
Recently utility crews were seen working along the roadway in anticipation of the project’s start.
“AT&T has been working on relocating utilities… They should be close to finishing up or already done. SAWS will be joint bidding with the roadway, meaning that any work SAWS needs to do will be done in conjunction with [the project] at the time of construction. Grey Forest Utilities and CPS Electric [lines] will be relocated prior to construction as far as we know,” said Esquivel. “There will be more meetings to verify all utilities are clear prior to the roadway construction.”
The sequencing of the actual project will involve shifting traffic first north to widen pavement on the south, and then shifting traffic south to construct the north side. Traffic then will be shifted north again to allow for construction to be completed on the south side before all lanes are finally opened.
“An engineer’s estimated timeline has not been developed yet but we anticipate it being from 18 to 24 months,” said Esquivel.
Individuals interested in learning more about the project can visit http://inf.bexar.org/.
“All of our current projects, including this one, are on the Web site and updated monthly,” said Esquivel. “We understand that the citizens need updates on this project and are willing to give any in formation requested.”
Sidebar: What’s in a Name?
In the 1900s, Boerne Stage Road served as a stagecoach route connecting San Antonio to Boerne. Later the roadway became part of the original, 1920s-era Old Spanish Trail (OST) that once stretched from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California. Today a marker on Baywater Stage in the Stage Run neighborhood honors Boerne Stage Road’s history.