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STV Wins APWA’s Project of the Year Award for Blanco Road Phase II Expansion Project in San Antonio

Jul 5, 2023
Blanco Road

STV’s design team was recently honored by the Texas American Public Works Association (APWA) for the firm’s work supporting a roadway expansion project to address traffic congestion in and around San Antonio.

The Blanco Road Phase II Expansion Project was awarded the 2023 Texas APWA Project of the Year for the Transportation ($5 Million to $25 Million) Category. STV served as the lead designer for the $18.5 million Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) project in Bexar County, TX.

Rapid growth significantly increased traffic volume in the northern part of Bexar County, particularly along Blanco Road in the northern part of San Antonio. STV performed engineering services for a 3.2-mile segment of Blanco Road for Phase II of the larger expansion project, taking the two-lane rural collector to a four-lane urban collector with medians and left-turn lanes. This newly expanded roadway was designed to provide added capacity, operational improvements, and necessary drainage improvements all within the existing 110-foot typical right-of-way (ROW).

“Bexar County has seen this growth for many years and the Alamo RMA was happy to be able to provide some congestion relief for the community,” an ARMA representative said of the roadway expansion program. “We have one more segment of Blanco Road to expand within Bexar County and look forward to working with our neighbors in Comal County to expand Blanco Road even further north.”

STV’s team had to overcome several challenges including working in a limited project area within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone as well as the associated environmental concerns of the project area being adjacent to the Joint Base San Antonio Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation (Camp Bullis), and in close proximity to a 24-inch high-pressure gas line. Despite these hurdles, STV’s team delivered this project within budget and on schedule.

Blanco Road

Innovative engineering features included roadway geometry that accommodated the beginnings of the rolling Texas Hill Country. Our team provided a Traffic Control Plan (TCP) that allowed two-way traffic for the entirety of the 26-month construction duration. To accommodate cross traffic impacted by the adjacent military base, STV employed a “Florida T” type intersection to direct movements and provide acceleration/deceleration refuge islands separated by medians.

Also due to the project’s proximity to Camp Bullis, STV coordinated with local businesses to design new, permanent access in anticipation that the existing access would be removed upon reconstruction and widening. STV’s team designed the new access to be built first so as to eliminate access disruption during construction.

STV Project Manager, Jaime Aguilar, P.E., said that the success of this project was due in large part to our team’s collaboration with ARMA: “Our team of designers worked closely together to develop innovative alternatives to address the many challenges along Blanco Road. Having a great teaming partner like the ARMA really helped streamline our decision matrix to keep the project on schedule.”

To avoid impacts to the project from its location within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, an important karst aquifer covering approximately 3,600 square miles of Central Texas and serving as the primary water source for much of the region, STV made strategic design use of curbs, ditches, backless inlets, and swales to comply with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requirements.

Since this roadway is included in the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), ARMA was able to garner support from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Through the MPO’s urban transportation planning process, federal funding was obtained to cover 80% of the construction and construction management costs.

Blanco Road

“We were honored to be a part of this historic project and have the opportunity to work together with so many different stakeholders,” Aguilar said. “It was truly an exceptional project, and we were proud to be a part of something that will significantly benefit the San Antonio community.”

The APWA Texas Chapter honored the project and its partners at the TX-APWA Public Works Conference last month. STV also served as the lead designer for Phase I of Blanco Road, for which the team was also awarded the APWA Transportation Project of the Year Award in 2012. This year, the same team has started the design of Phase III for Blanco Road.