News, traffic3

Reconsider hitting the snooze button – instead hit the gas pedal sooner this semester. Construction along UTSA Boulevard continues to slow traffic and increase travel times. However, once the $9 million road expansion project is complete, travel to and from the university, surrounding businesses and homes will be considerably easier.

The expansion between IH10 and Edward Ximenes Road is scheduled for completion in 2017.

The Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) website touts the project as crucial to keeping up with the area’s growth, mostly through apartment complexes trying to accommodate UTSA’s increasing enrollment.

The upcoming development entails expanding UTSA Boulevard from two lanes to five lanes (two new lanes in each direction with a center left turn lane); adding gutters and drainage to the storm sewer; raising existing medians and adding curbs creating a 10-foot path on both sides of the roadway for pedestrians and cyclists.

In addition to these improvements, the two-lane bridge over Leon Creek will be widened to four lanes with a center turn lane, bike lanes and a sidewalk. The speed limit will remain at 45 miles per hour.

During a public hearing held on March 17, 2014, Jonathan Bean, director of the transportation planning and development for the San Antonio district of TxDOT, explained the importance of the project.

“The proposed project is needed due to congestion along Spur 53 (UTSA Boulevard) and the increasing growth of UTSA. Traffic within the project area is expected to increase approximately 54.5 percent within the next 20 years from approximately 18,700 vehicles per day in 2013 to 28,900 vehicles per day in 2033.”

Although the construction is essential for a better commute, not everyone is pleased with all of the elements of the proposed plan. Assistant Vice President of Facilities of University Oaks Housing Partnership, Jim Penberthy, has serious concerns.

“We believe (the new plan) will have a detrimental impact on our business as we believe future occupancy at University Oaks will be negatively affected,” Penberthy stated in a comment after the hearing.

“The local fire department responds from Babcock Road which puts them in the east bound lane for emergency response situations at University Oaks. If this design is built according to present plans, emergency response traffic will only be able to access entrances by making a U-turn. This obviously poses serious safety concerns for our residents, guests and employees,” Penberthy continued.

Although Penberthy requested a consideration to redesign the plan, it is unclear if designs were changed.

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