SHAVANO PARK — Years of tremendous growth are catching up to the Shavano Park area, prompting needed improvements to Northwest Military Highway for motorists and pedestrians alike, traffic planners say.
The Texas Department of Transportation, in coordination with the city and the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, is designing two different projects: one within the city and the other north of Loop 1604 on the portion also known as FM 1535.
The work inside city limits is called the Northwest Military Highway Improvement Project and will run from Huebner Road to 1604. Among other enhancements, it is designed to add a continuous center turn lane on the roughly 1.8 miles of the highway running through Shavano Park.
“TxDOT is in charge of that project. It will get started in 2020,” said City Manager Bill Hill. “When they improve Northwest Military, it is scheduled for adding bike lanes and sidewalks.”
Some 18,365 vehicles per day use Northwest Military, according to a traffic study conducted by Pape-Dawson Engineers Inc. There were seven major vehicle crashes reported along the roadway from 2012-2017, including two fatalities, as well as 146 minor vehicle mishaps.
Along with a new center turn lane, Shavano Park officials want the Northwest Military Highway project to include on-street bike lanes and road curbs. City officials also want to upgrade the intersection at Pond Hill Road by possibly adding a traffic signal.
Shavano Park officials also requested that the highway department place a “No U-Turn” sign and create crosswalks at the Pond Hill intersection.
Laura Lopez, a TxDOT spokeswoman, said the Northwest Military Highway Improvement Project has not been finalized and there is no estimate for what the total cost will be for this long-planned project.
“We don’t have any specifics for (the project), no numbers, no price tag at this time,” Lopez said. “We will share details of the plans with the public at a public meeting sometime this summer.”
The second initiative, called the FM 1535 Expansion Project, will also take place along Northwest Military, from 1604 to Shavano Ranch Road in the Camp Bullis area.
The FM 1535 project includes widening Northwest Military from two to four lanes. The project will also add a center turn lane, as well as a raised median, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
The FM 1535 Expansion Project is budgeted at $5.6 million, Lopez said.
“It is a growing area, an area that has developed a lot,” Lopez said. “It has the Cornerstone Christian Academy and a lot of development, which generates a lot of traffic in the area.”
The earliest that construction is anticipated to begin is spring 2020 for the FM 1535 Expansion Project and winter 2020 for the Northwest Military Highway Improvement Project.
TxDOT is also constructing a turnaround lane on 1604 at Northwest Military for eastbound traffic to make a U-turn to travel westbound. Construction is anticipated to begin in late 2018 and take about six months.