A project extending Lyster Road near Brooks should ease traffic flow and increase business growth at the South Side economic generator, planners say.
Since 2001, the Brooks mixed-use development community – formerly known as Brooks City-Base, and before that, Brooks Air Force Base – has been a boon to the South Side, revitalizing the area and creating new jobs, officials said.
The reconstruction is one undertaking in an overall period of expansion at Brooks.
“This project came about in large part thanks to the overwhelming support of District 3 City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran and her office,” said Connie Gonzalez, Brooks’ director of strategy and community relations. “The councilwoman was instrumental in helping us obtain the funding for the Lyster Road extension, which the voters passed in 2017 as part of the bond.”
A January groundbreaking of the $7.6 million betterment came with accolades from Viagran.
“This project was made possible by the citizens in District 3 and throughout the city of San Antonio,” she said at the ceremony. “The support of entities like Brooks and their tenants helps me do my job of securing funding for projects like this that enhance and connect our community and help build a better future for our residents.”
When completed, the thoroughfare will stretch from Aviation Landing to South New Braunfels Avenue.
“This area of our campus is where many major employers have opened or are in the process of developing, so the direct connection to South New Braunfels will make it even easier for those filling the jobs we are bringing here to get to and from work every day,” said Brooks President and CEO Leo Gomez during the groundbreaking.
In addition to upgrades to the road itself, construction includes two new lanes in each direction and a center turn lane.
Efforts to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting directives to shelter in place and temporarily close businesses – ultimately eased in late April – haven’t caused any real headaches, officials said.
“Despite the stay-at-home orders made by our local and state governments, we’ve still been able to maintain our schedule with minimal delays, and right now, we’re on track to be finished by early 2021,” Gonzalez said. “When it is complete, the extension project will not only help with the mobility on the Brooks campus, but also in traffic around the campus.”
She added, “There is a lot of development in this area, in general, especially in the light-industrial and manufacturing area of our campus.”
The widened passageway will serve some of Brooks’ largest employers. One of the upcoming corporate tenants will be Cuisine Solutions, a sous vide food distributor and manufacturer.
Breaking ground on its headquarters this past February, the company could generate more than 500 new jobs. Officials noted those workers would become benefactors of the Lyster Road work.
“Right across from where Cuisine Solutions facilities will be is where we are creating a new 450,000-square-foot light-manufacturing facility,” Gonzalez said. “Who will occupy that space is still to be determined, but this could create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. With development, naturally, comes traffic. We’re not shying away from that. And in fact, we’re trying to be proactive in anticipating that, which is why the Lyster Road project was started initially.”
Another major industry, Nissei Plastic Machinery America’s 115,000-square-foot structure, debuted in May 2018.
In addition to actual roadwork, there will be new sidewalks and bike paths, plus drainage improvements and landscape with more than 160 planted trees.
“When Lyster Road is completed, we feel that it will truly be beneficial in helping to mitigate the traffic in the area,” Gonzalez said. “We have several projects in development as part of our master plan. One involves South New Braunfels to Loop 410, which would give us access to another major highway, as right now we only have access really to one — Interstate 37. Ultimately, our goal is to do everything we can to make Brooks everything that this community needs.”