January 11, 2011 brooke

Finish line in sight on Wurzbach Parkway

More than two decades after the highway was proposed, the final 4.8-mile stretch completing Wurzbach Parkway now is being built.

The parkway is intended to give motorists an alternate major east-west route in a growing part of the city, alleviating congestion on Loop 410 and Loop 1604.

“You talk about the light at the end of the tunnel, well, we’re really seeing the light at the end of this tunnel in regards to Wurzbach Parkway,” Pct. 3 County Commissioner Kevin Wolff said. “It’s still a few more years out, but, you know what, we’re finally going to get it done and we have the money to get it done.”

Wolff joined state transportation officials and city and county leaders, including his father, County Judge Nelson Wolff, in a symbolic groundbreaking for the project Tuesday at Walker Ranch Heritage Park.

Wurzbach Parkway — so named because it connects to Wurzbach Road on the Northwest Side — was first envisioned in the mid-1980s to connect the Medical Center to Interstate 35. The Texas Transportation Commission approved the extension to Wurzbach Road in 1988, and work began on it in 1994.

But, since the rest of the roadway was completed in 2002, a gap has remained in the parkway between Blanco Road and Wetmore Road, preventing motorists from traveling from one end of the planned parkway to the other. In November 2009, the Transportation Commission allocated the remaining $130 million needed to complete the parkway, with the funds coming from voter-approved Proposition 12 bond revenue.

“For folks who live out here and drive that on a daily basis, they have been begging for this type of relief for some time,” Commissioner Wolff said.

Julie Brown, the San Antonio deputy district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation, said the gap would be finished in three phases, two of which already have begun.

She said work on the highway segment between Jones Maltsberger Road and Wetmore began in November, and construction on the stretch between Blanco and West Avenue started this month. Work on the third and final segment, between West and Jones Maltsberger, is scheduled to begin this summer.

She said the parkway will have four to six lanes of divided highway, as well as overpasses at Blanco Road, West Avenue, U.S. 281, Jones Maltsberger Road and Starcrest Drive. It’s to be completed in 2014.

Tuesday, Wolff recalled how he and other officials traveled to Austin in 2009 to plead with the Transportation Commission for the money.

“We are very lucky and a lot of that is thanks to people like the judge, his son and (District 10 City Councilman) John Clamp… people who went up to Austin and spoke during the two-day meeting to talk them into deciding that our project was the right project to fund,” said Louis Rowe, chairman-elect of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition.

Rowe said that of the 150 projects being considered, the Transportation Commission funded only three, including Wurzbach Parkway. The two others were in the Houston area.

“It is seldom that we are able to witness the construction of a brand new … roadway, such as Wurzbach Parkway, especially today, as transportation funding in general continues to erode,” Brown told those who had gathered for the groundbreaking. “So, having two of the last three sections of this highway under construction, and the very last section to follow shortly, it is truly a cause for celebration.”

Article originally published by MySA.com – Jeorge Zarazua