Loop 82 construction plans face delays due to acquisition process

News Reporter

The bridge construction for Loop 82 on Aquarena Springs Drive has been delayed to begin between Aug. 2014 and Jan. 2015 due to the legal acquisition process between the city and TxDOT.

The city is now working with TxDOT to begin planning the construction process in May, said project engineer Rey Garcia. The project will be awarded to a contractor in May, and it will take two to three months for the legal work to be completed before construction can begin. Garcia said the project will break ground in August if the acquisition process is completed by early summer.

“That’s going to be the earliest that we can start, and the window is if the acquisition process takes longer, then it could take up to early next year,” Garcia said.

During construction, traffic will be limited to one lane in each direction when no major university events are being held, said Juan Guerra, associate vice president of Facilities.

The contract between TxDOT and the city has provisions that will allow four traffic lanes to be open during major events, Guerra said.

“They have written in their contract that move-in weekend, when freshman are moving into the residents halls, typically in August, they will make sure that they have four lanes of traffic open up on Loop 82, and the same thing the first week of the spring and fall semester,” Guerra said.

Four lanes will also be open during the three commencement ceremonies, as well as the parking lots around Bobcat Stadium that are accessible during university and high school games, Guerra said.

“We certainly don’t want one lane of traffic in each direction during any kind of major event on campus, so we will be working closely with TxDOT and their contractor once the contract is awarded,” Guerra said.

City councilmembers approved a funding agreement between the city and TxDOT, and utility relocation costs during their Feb. 28 meeting, Garcia said. The agreement says 90 percent of funding will come from TxDot and 10 percent will be funded by the city.

“They’ve estimated that the land acquisition for the entire project will be around $4.3 million, and what that means is the city is responsible for 10 percent of that cost,” Garcia said.

The city will be responsible for funding an estimated $480,000 that will be used for utility relocation costs. Councilmembers approved funds to be spent on on utility relocation, cost of design and environmental costs.