No look at the top stories of the year would be complete without writing about the growth and the construction that comes with it.
That’s been true for years, and will likely be true for years to come if experts are right about their projections not only for New Braunfels and Comal County, but for the region as a whole.
With an average of 15 new people moving to town each day last year, New Braunfels remained the second fastest growing city in the nation by percentage for the second consecutive year, according to data released by the Census Bureau in May of 2019.
That growth has meant that the city, utilities and school districts have to race to keep up — as do homebuilders in an area where studies show workers are being squeezed out by a lack of affordable housing.
One area that people can already feel the pinch of growth is in transportation — not only in traffic, but in the construction along Loop 337 and Interstate 35 and elsewhere.
During the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Committee meeting in August, Texas Department of Transportation New Braunfels Area Engineer Will Lockett gave his annual in-depth county rundown of active and upcoming projects.
With 10 active projects totaling $168.4 million, Lockett said the county’s growth has spurred the need for infrastructure improvements.
One of those projects may seem smaller in scale, but it has a big impact in downtown New Braunfels, is the rebuilding of the San Antonio Street bridge.
The renovation is expanding bridge width from 28 feet to 44 feet, travel lanes from 10 to 15 feet and sidewalks from 4 feet to 8 feet.
The bridge, constructed in 1923, has five 70-foot arch spans and two 30-foot girder spans that will remain, but only for aesthetics. Its structure will remain the same, with footings reinforced for heavy vehicles to safely cross the bridge and crash-proof railings.
During construction, San Antonio Street traffic, measured at nearly 9,500 vehicles daily in both directions, is being detoured onto Comal, Union and Elizabeth avenues, Torrey and Garden streets and Hinman Island and Landa Park drives.