Construction causes shutdown of North LBJ-Sessom Drive intersection

News Editor

The intersection at North LBJ Drive and Sessom Drive will be closed until August 15 for reconstruction.

A decision made by city councilmembers at their June 3 meeting changed the intersection reconstruction plan from a “4 Phase” to a “2 Phase” strategy to expedite completion. Shutting down the intersection completely is part of the “2 Phase” plan and has sped up the construction process, said Sean Condor, project manager.

“So far, (with the two phase plan), we’re a little bit ahead of schedule,” Condor said. “We’re still sticking with the August 15 completion.”

Drivers coming from Aquarena Springs on Sessom will be forced to take a right onto North LBJ Drive, Condor said. In order to get the construction done by August 15, the entire intersection had to be “torn up,” Condor said.

The crosswalks at the intersection will incorporate a maroon stripe, which can be seen on the area that is already finished, Condor said. The intersection will be made of asphalt, since concrete takes a longer time to install, he said.

Entrance into the university from the intersection will be closed off until the project is completed, Condor said. Students taking the bus that traditionally goes through The Quad loop have been redirected to the Undergraduate Academic Center stop, said Steven Herrera, shuttle service manager.

“All of the buses (from The Quad loop) were redistributed to the UAC bus stop,” Herrera said.

The North LBJ route has been redesigned to bypass the segment that is still under construction, Herrera said. Although accommodating the quick changes being made by city has been a “bit of a challenge,” Herrera said the buses have been able to operate “very well” this summer.

“We’re really excited and hopeful that the construction will be completed on the schedule that the city has committed to,” Herrera said.

The intersection reconstruction is a part of larger $6.9 million project to make repairs on North LBJ Drive, which is expected to be completed next summer, Condor said.

“Everything that needed repairs is getting repaired,” Condor said.

Shared lanes for bikes, sidewalks on both sides of the street and water, sewer and storm drains will be added, Condor said.

Surrounding business owners say they are being affected by the construction.

Mochas and Javas, a coffee shop located on North LBJ Drive, experienced trouble when the construction was heavy on its side of the street.

“We could have done better otherwise while the construction has been going on,” said Andy Trevino, Mochas and Javas manager.

The construction has not had a “devastating” effect on the shop, but it did slow down business, Trevino said. A lot of Mochas and Javas customers are “extremely loyal” and oftentimes walked through a “construction warzone” to get their daily caffeine fix.

In an attempt to help sales, Mochas and Javas has done some extra marketing and enhanced their catering business. By focusing on catering, customers don’t have to come to the shop, and the product can be brought to them, Trevino said.

Even though the construction has affected the coffee shop, Trevino said there are “no hard feelings.”

“The project is very necessary,” Trevino said. “It is going to add bike lanes on both sides, so it will really help out pedestrian and motor traffic.”

Reconstructing the road will ultimately be “safer and more convenient” for students who drive, walk or ride bikes, Trevino said.

“(The project) is just a part of growth,” Trevino said.