SELMA – A $9 million upgrade on Lookout Road including a new bridge has eased traffic congestion and put an end to a dangerous low-water crossing, officials said.
The 2015 bond project paid for the improvement of a thoroughfare often used by motorists to bypass bustling Interstate 35.
“(Reconstruction) has been a total success, because it has opened a street that was always underwater and a bridge that needed to be higher,” said Mayor Tom Daly. “It also added four lanes to the road and that’s helped all of the new businesses that opened up, such as Ben E. Keith (Co.), O’Reilly (Auto Parts), Penske (Truck Rental) and Beyer Boys.”
He added, “Before, if (I-35) was closed down, that really was a problem for truck traffic going down Lookout Road to (Loop) 1604. Now, that’s not a problem.”
Prior to the betterments, Lookout Road averaged nearly 25,000 motorists a day, with projections to double inside a decade.
As early as Selma’s 2006 master plan for the city, leaders said they knew the roadway needed rebuilding.
“Our residents now have four nice, smooth lanes to help alleviate some of the traffic on the highway,” said Wyatt Agee, assistant to the city administrator. “It really makes everything flow a little bit better in the area.”
Merchants along Lookout Road said they required a more direct, efficient way to reach 1604. By expanding the route and adding the bridge, Selma not only aided existing business partners, but also included a tool to attract new industry locally, municipal officials said.
“It’s a little early in the game right now for us to have any true ‘measurables’ to gauge the success of the project,” Agee said. “What we do have is more anecdotal evidence of people telling us how happy they are that it is completed. People officially and unofficially have reached out to us and it has all been positive.”
Lookout Road remained largely closed during the two-year endeavor conducted by Capital Excavation work crews. In August, it reopened with much fanfare including an Air Force flyover, with City Administrator Johnny Casias and other municipal dignitaries joining Daly.
“The feedback we’ve gotten from the community has all been positive,” the mayor said. “The people have been very patient about it (construction) and now we have a beautiful, four-lane road … that goes all the way down through the city and easy access to Schertz Parkway and FM 3009 and Loop 1604.”
According to Daly, “If anything happens on 35, there is a backup plan.”
Lookout Road enters Selma from San Antonio on the south and exits north into Schertz, crossing Cibolo Creek.
The undertaking doubled the existing two lanes, incorporated center lanes at multiple intersections, and created a bridge near River City Community Church, where the area often flooded when rains inundated Cibolo Creek.
According to city officials, floodwaters have reached as high as 15 feet, making passage impossible, sometimes for weeks.
“Taking care of the traffic problem and that low-water crossing was why we had initially wanted to do the expansion on Lookout Road,” Daly said. “With this project we were able to take care of both in one fell swoop. No longer will we have those problems and our residents are very enthusiastic about it.”