Bexar County – Less traffic has meant more progress for some public works projects, says Bexar County Director of Public Works Renee Green.
With fewer people on the roads and schools shuttered because of the pandemic, Green said one street reconstruction project was able to finish in a fraction of the time expected, and two other, ongoing projects are ahead of schedule.
While a quicker completion date will not result in cost savings, Green said it’s helpful for drivers, as traveling in a construction zone can cause some anxiety.
“So, if we can minimize the negative impacts of doing this type of work on the traveling public, it’s a benefit for everybody,” Green said.
Because of light traffic, the start time for a reconstruction project for a 1.1-mile section of Binz-Engleman between Texas Palms and Metzger Middle School was moved up from summer to April 22. Green said the light traffic also allowed crews to cut off an entire lane of traffic and complete the project in eight days instead of the three- or four-week timeframe that was originally expected.
A lack of school and light traffic has also allowed crews on a project along Evans Road between Bulverde Road and Wortham Oaks Boulevard to accelerate construction, Green said.
On the Far West Side, Green said a project to expand old FM 471 and Old Talley Road near Culebra Road was able to get a jump on a phase of construction. Harlan High School and an under-construction middle school are both near the project.
But, with school not in session, the crews are able to start on portions of the construction that they would ordinarily have to wait a few months to do.
“We were able to jump on that segment of construction that normally would have had to have waited a couple of months because school was in session,” Green said. “We were able to do that quite, quite quickly.”
However, Paul Berry, a spokesman for the San Antonio Public Works Department, said while the stay-home orders in the spring resulted in faster work on streets, sidewalks, and potholes, the city was not seeing much of a change in the progress its public works projects at the moment.
Road work usually involves them blocking off the street, anyways, Berry said, “So, probably going just as fast, if not just a little bit faster.”
Back at the county, Green said whether they are able to keep up a quicker pace will depend largely on how schools handle reopening.
“If some of the school districts choose to do offsite learning for maybe three weeks, then that gives us another three weeks,” Green said. “So, really, we want to pay attention closely to what the school districts choose to do, what those particular schools that are in and around our projects -- when they’re going to open, their times of operation -- and then we’ll plan accordingly with our contractors.”