Bring a book, UTSA boulevard expansion to be a year long trip

Utsa blvd

The City of San Antonio and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) will begin work next month on a series of projects aimed at providing close space relief for the congestion on UTSA Boulevard. The projects will widen UTSA Boulevard from two to four lanes while also providing mixed-use paths that will allow both pedestrians and cyclists to easily traverse the artery, which runs along the university’s southern border.

Construction on the projects will begin in January and is expected to finish in early 2016.

The $18.7 million projects are being jointly paid for by the City of San Antonio and by the Texas Department of Transportation with funds coming from local, state and federal sources. UTSA Boulevard is administered by the City of San Antonio between Babcock and Edward Ximenes Avenue and TxDoT.

Unlike earlier proposals for expanding UTSA Boulevard — which would have closed the road to traffic between Valero Way and Ximenes Avenue — the street will remain open while construction is ongoing, according to Laura Lopez, a spokeswoman for TxDoT.

Currently, when a driver must turn left from UTSA Boulevard, drivers behind them must either wait until the turning vehicle can make the turn, they simply drive around them. Additionally, the lights along UTSA Boulevard are on separate timers, making congestion and long waits typical for anyone traveling to or from campus.

While UTSA Boulevard is currently only wide enough for one lane in either direction between Babcock Road and Utex Boulevard, the project will widen the street to accommodate more traffic during peak hours. The preliminary schematics state that from Utex Boulevard through Ximenes Avenue there will be two lanes of traffic in either direction with an additional center turn lane, and from Ximenes Avenue to Babcock Road there will be two lanes in each direction separated by a median.

The construction will allow room for more cars, According to Lopez, as many as 23,000 cars per day currently travel UTSA Boulevard at its busiest point — the intersection with Interstate 10. However, traffic lights along the artery will be synced to allow traffic to flow more easily than the current system.

In addition to widening the road, a sidewalk will be constructed on each side of UTSA Boulevard for the road’s entire length, allowing students to safely walk from Babcock Road to Interstate 10 without hassle. From Valero Way to Babcock Road this sidewalk will be widened to 10 feet, allowing for use by both pedestrians and cyclists; a bike lane will be implemented between Utex Boulevard and Valero Way to accommodate cyclists traveling to and from campus.

The project is expected to take two years to complete, suggesting that more construction and traffic woes are in UTSA’s the immediate future. However, there is some relief on the horizon for drivers commuting to UTSA from Interstate 10. According to Josh Donat, a spokesman for TxDot, the westbound exit to UTSA Boulevard should be reopened by Spring Break.