Just when it seems Interstate 35 construction might be over, the next round starts up again.
The venue is a never-ending work in progress, and Comal County and New Braunfels are included in the list of upcoming projects planned for the venue.
Carlos Arcilla, Texas Department of Transportation assistant area engineer, said TxDOT’s San Antonio district has surpassed Dallas to become the state’s second-leading area in project development.
“That’s reflective of all of the growth throughout the district,” he said during TxDOT’s informal media update on I-35 projects on Wednesday. “We have 152 active projects valued at $2.2 billion that are located in 12 counties. All of Comal County and I-35 will be seeing some form of work — and we’d like to keep the public informed.”
TxDOT District Engineer Will Lockett and Public Information Officer Hernan Rozemberg also spoke on major projects planned or underway along the county’s I-35 corridor. Included are ramp reversals and intersectional improvements in three major areas extending from Farm-to-Market Road 2252 to the Hays County line.
• FM 2252 through Schwab Road ($25 million); began in July; projected completion: Jan. 2021.
• FM 306/Creekside Crossing ($18 million);
began Oct. 7; projected completion: Spring 2021.
• Conrads/Kohlenberg Road ($63 million); begins Jan. 2020; projected completion: Spring 2023.
“Engineers and consultants reviewed all of the intersections, looking for (possible) operational improvements, and there are many,” Lockett said. “We prioritized three to begin work; the fourth includes the FM 1103 bridge, which was completed over the summer.”
Entry and exit ramps are undergoing conversions — reversals switch and extend existing exit ramps into entrance ramps and vice-versa — providing room for more cars at major intersections.
Improvements made between FM 2252 to Schwab Road include the new and expanded FM 1103 bridge completed in July.
Two new Park and Ride, or carpool, lots will replace the rest areas on each side of I-35 just north of Schertz.
The FM 306/Creekside Crossing intersection will become a partial Displaced Left Turn (DLT) similar to the State Highway 80/I-35 intersection in San Marcos, where SH 80 traffic is routed to I-35 access on the left and right, with the DLT freeing center lanes through the intersection.
The Conrads/Kohlenberg project will include two major steps en route to a complete rebuild of the current 8-shaped configuration.
The existing overpass and loop ramps will be removed and replaced with an overpass over I-35.
Both current two-way frontage roads will be converted and widened into three lanes carrying one-way traffic; reverse, relocate and extend the current entrance and exit ramps; then construct a separate new turnaround interchange between Conrads/Kohlenberg and Watson Lane East.
A new bridge will carry I-35 traffic, with turnaround lanes offering drivers shorter access onto the interstate.
“We should begin work on the frontage roads in January, and start construction the main frontage lanes by sometime in the spring,” Lockett said.
TxDOT says its projects shouldn’t conflict with city of New Braunfels plans to expand road ways on the city’s north end — which are currently on the drawing board.
The 2019 bond will fund $21 million to reconstruct Goodwin and Conrads Lanes between FM 306 and Interstate 35.
The bond will also get a start on widening Barbarosa Road (FM 306) past FM 1101 (Freiheit Road) to Alves Lane ($7.2 million) and start a north-south collector linking into the Creekside area from Business 35 ($6.6 million).
Jennifer Cain, the city’s capital projects manager, said preliminary designs for the Goodwin Lane improvements are in and a contract for final designs to be considered Monday.
“We are taking a final design contract to City Council for approval (Monday),” she said. “Upon approval, the design team will complete the design over the next year.
“Once design is finalized we will begin acquiring right of way (ROW) and getting the utilities relocated as necessary. ROW acquisition and utility relocations typically take at least a couple years.”
TxDOT in 2021 will begin yet another expansion of I-35, adding six lanes — three elevated lanes: two general purpose lanes and one high-occupancy lane in each direction– between Loop 410 in San Antonio north to Farm-to-Market Road 3009 in Guadalupe County.
The middle part of the $1.5 billion project will likely start between Loop 410 and Loop 1604.
Lockett said all of the work set for I-35 is to satisfy the tremendous growth along the venue.
“It’s a direct result of the number of people moving into the area — into Comal County, Guadalupe County — and these are the growing pains that come with it. And we’re trying to get that infrastructure in place, which of course is key to meeting that need.”
Lockett and Rozemberg said the projected construction dates are all dependent on weather and other issues that could indeed sway completion one way or the other over the next three years.
“In January, we’ll have about a half-dozen projects that are active within New Braunfels city limits,” Rozemberg said. “We’re just happy we’re able to start these improvements, now that more money has become available from the state.