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Stimulus may bring some relief to U.S. 281
The plan approved by the group’s policy board also includes nearly $2.5 million to upgrade low-water crossings and close funding gaps for three street and drainage projects.
The largest amount is $14.74 million to extend and realign 36th Street, from U.S. 90 to Billy Mitchell Boulevard, a project that Port San Antonio officials said could generate more than 4,500 jobs by enhancing airfield access and the flow of cargo at the 1,900-acre aerospace, industrial and international logistics complex.
“It’s really a great project that will open up a lot of opportunities for the port,” said Sid Martinez, director of the MPO.
The other major project on the list for stimulus funding is a $7.8 million upgrade to a roughly four-mile stretch of U.S. 281, extending north from Loop 1604 to Marshall Road. Under a “super street” concept that’s been used in other states, the road would be reconfigured to eliminate cross traffic, increasing flows by an estimated 30 percent, officials said.
“It should provide some temporary congestion relief until a permanent solution is found,” Martinez said.
The 281 project would be funded with $5.7 million in stimulus money, $1.6 million from the Advanced Transportation District and $500,000 from the city. Councilman Louis Rowe said residents in his North Side district have urged him to do anything he could to relieve the logjam there.
People could be driving on the improved stretch within a year, Rowe said.
Also approved is $750,000 to improve Eagleland Drive south of downtown; $500,000 to complete an upgrade to Jones Maltsberger Road on the North Side; $660,000 for two drainage projects on Salado Creek; and $550,000 for low-water crossings.
The Texas Transportation Commission earlier this month decided to allocate $60 million in stimulus money for part of the interchange at U.S. 281 North and Loop 1604. Combined with $60 million in state bond funds and $20 million in local funds, the money is to finance ramps on the south side of the loop.
In addition to a lawsuit filed last year by Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas and Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom that could delay the interchange, the other stimulus projects could face design, legal or right-of-way issues that could endanger San Antonio stimulus funds. Any money that isn’t obligated by March 2010 will have to be returned to the federal government, Martinez said.
For that reason, the MPO has a list of 62 backup projects totaling more than $148.5 million that could get stimulus money. The largest are $40 million to widen and improve Interstate 10 from Huebner Road to Loop 1604; $33 million to build Wurzbach Parkway from Jones Maltsberger Road to Wetmore Road; $32 million for Wurzbach Parkway from Blanco Road to West Avenue; and $28.8 million for bus rapid transit improvements on Fredericksburg Road.