A $14.9 million project to expand Bulverde Road north of Loop 1604 to Evans Road is entering a final phase.
For residents and travelers along the U.S. 281 North corridor, long-term construction has been a way of life for more than six years.
One of the remaining tasks, the long-gestating Bulverde Road initiative overseen by Bexar County, has entered its last leg.
This stage of construction begins at Marshall Road and extends north 1.2 miles, with betterments ultimately resulting in a four-lane roadway with 4-foot shoulders and curbs.
“That whole expansion of Bulverde Road from 281 to Evans Road has been a long project that’s been done in multiple phases,” said Renee Green, director of public works for Bexar County. “The whole expansion of Bulverde Road started back in 2007. The city had a bond issue where they expanded from Loop 1604 north to Evans Road. (Bexar County) then expanded Evans to TPC Parkway.”
According to Green, “That was about a three-year project and the total cost was $7.6 million. North East Independent School District was a very minor partner, as well as some in the private sector who were developing subdivisions in that area.”
The expansion will have an impact on Bulverde Road’s intersections with Marshall Road, plus Valley Creek and Bulverde Oaks drives, by adding dedicated left- and right-turn lanes. Also the work involves installing traffic lights, including turn signals, at the Bulverde Road-Bulverde Oaks Drive intersection.
To thwart flooding, an area storm-sewer system will contain curb inlets and pipes, plus cross-drainage improvements and water-quality structures.
“The Bulverde/Evans intersection was a federally funded portion of the project,” Green said. “We had to acquire right of way on that part of the project. The government paid 80% of that and the county paid the remainder. These are all high-dollar projects, which is why we have done these in segments.”
According to Green, the stage preceding this last portion of the improvements extended from Smithson Valley Road almost to Marshall Road, with work being done from 2013-2016.
Officials said there have been many hurdles along the way before launching the final phase. Originally intended to finish earlier in construction, postponements consumed several years due to environmental approval needed from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“What the U.S. Fish & Wildlife did from 2012 all the way until recently in 2020 was change not only personnel a couple of times during this process, but also change their policies and procedures,” Green said. “Every time a new person would come in, we would almost have to start all the way over from scratch in getting their approval. The eight-year process in getting environmental clearance from them is why this project has been delayed.”
Houston-based firm Harper Brothers Construction will handle the roadwork; projections call for a Feb. 15 start, lasting some 1 1/2 years.
“Weather permitting, we do not anticipate any further delays and I feel confident that 18 months from now, we will have this project completed,” Green said. “The timing is favorable, because we will complete the bulk of the construction during the warmer months when there isn’t much rain.”
Green added, “But, we work with the contractors very closely and have a plan on how they’re to deliver the project. In this particular case, since there are federal guidelines we need to follow, there are a lot of eyes on it, so (it) incentivizes the contractor to stay on track.”