By: Nicholas Laughlin
Loop 82 overpass construction to start, complete with maroon, gold aesthetics TXDOT officials plan to build an overpass on Aquarena Springs Drive to relieve train traffic.
Construction on the Loop 82 overpass, which will last an estimated two years, is slated to start April 6 on Aquarena Springs Drive after months of delay.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will start work on the access roads first. Construction will then move to the Post Road configuration and the overpass, said Nancy Nusbaum, interim director of Transportation Services.
The overpass access roads will consist of two lanes, one on each side, Nusbaum said. Aquarena Springs Drive will become a two-way road for an estimated two weeks during construction, Nusbaum said.
“The City of San Marcos has been concerned with these at-risk railroad crossings for a long time,” said Bill Nance, vice president of finance and support services.
According to the city website, the project will increase mobility and safety along Aquarena Springs and allow traffic to travel without interruptions from train crossings.
Nusbaum said TxDOT gave the university an opportunity to voice an opinion on the look of the overpass.
Denise Trauth, Texas State president, wrote a letter to TxDOT stating the university would support the project if officials could have input on the aesthetics of the overpass.
The bridge will feature arches mirroring the architecture of Bobcat Stadium, the Texas State star and maroon and gold elements, Nance said. Designs on the concrete will “evoke” the feeling of the San Marcos River where the bridge meets the earth.
“TxDOT and the city have been very good about incorporating what they can within the budget,” Nance said. “We think, given that it’s an overpass, it’s going to look as nice as it can look over there.”
Nance said TxDOT officials have been easy to work with and are dedicated to keeping the university’s parking lots accessible.
The university will lose the parking spaces between the stadium and Strahan Coliseum to make way for the overpass and a new water line, Nance said. TxDOT officials paid the university for the land acquired on both sides of Aquarena Springs Drive.
“With some re-striping, we believe that we can get back most of the spaces but not all of them,” Nusbaum said.
Three of the six Aquarena Springs Drive bus routes will be reconfigured as TxDOT recreates the access roads, Nusbaum said.
The access roads will not parallel the overpass. The overpass will start near Mamacita’s and gradually come up to its highest point at Post Road, Nance said. The overpass will start to level out and meet the current road at Charles Austin Drive.
TxDOT negotiated to keep the stadium driveways open during home football games and commencement, Nusbaum said. The contractor will place signs near Interstate Highway 35 directing drivers to open lanes.
Nusbaum and her colleagues will attend construction meetings to stay informed and get notices out “as fast as we can.”
“(University officials) will do our best to send out notices,” Nance said. “The key will be communication between the contractor and the university.”
Nusbaum said university officials will advise students living off Aquarena Springs Drive to leave “a little bit earlier” to get from their apartments to classes on time.
“I think it’s going to be a dramatic improvement,” Nance said. “The fact that you don’t get stopped by trains will be a benefit for everybody, but the two and a half years getting there will be painful.”
Nicholas Laughlin is a reporter for the University Star where this story originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the University Star and Corridor News.