By Monica Cabanela
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
A major entrance to the University of the Incarnate Word closed this week briefly to allow contractors to do utility upgrades for the city, but its closure forced campus pedestrians and motorists to use another gate.
Campus Police Chief Jacob Colunga announced Monday the Burr Road gate would be closed at least to mid-week – forcing the contractor to hire a police officer to be stationed at the Davis Court Gate two days to help pedestrians and motorists enter and leave the campus.
“The contractors have evaluated the area around Burr Road and they determined that it would be safer for our community and their workers if the gate was closed,” Colunga said. “The contractor will hire a police officer to be stationed at the Davis Court Gate, whose sole responsibility is to assist UIW traffic enter and exit the campus. It is still strongly suggested that all commuters use the 281 entrance or enter/exit through one of the three Hildebrand gates.
“The contractors also discourage any pedestrian crossing at Burr Road because there will be an open trench across the entrance. If one must cross Broadway, we suggest crossing at Harrigan Court, where there is a traffic light and crosswalk, or at Davis Court. The officer has been instructed to watch for both traffic and pedestrians. When crossing at Davis Court, wait for the officer to give you the all clear/safe motion before crossing the street.”
At times, the Davis Court Gate has been closed at the contractor’s request.
“Traffic appears to be more congested on Broadway,” Colunga said. “At the beginning, we had a lot of traffic ‘cutting’ through campus to avoid the congestion at the Broadway-Hildebrand intersection. It was because of this that we instituted closing the Davis Court Gate (across from the Wash Tub) during the peak hours of traffic (morning rush, lunch hour, and evening rush).
“The complaints have been a lot less than anticipated. Those students and faculty who have expressed their feelings have been a bit frustrated with the congestion more so than anything else. However, they understand the necessity of the project.”
Still, yet to come is the city’s anticipated work on a multimillion-dollar drainage project at Broadway and Hildebrand alongside the campus that is expected to take up to 18 months. However, a Bexar County district judge has granted an injunction that temporarily prevents the city from spending any bond money on the project that was scheduled to begin in May.
“If they don’t relieve the drainage, we’ll have high-water flooding when it rains,” said Louis J. Fox, assistant to the president for community relations and campus security.
Fox, a former San Antonio and Lubbock city manager, said UIW also wants commuters to have easier access to the campus from Hildebrand.
“We are thinking of putting a left-turn lane into UIW from Hildebrand to stop backup, but it won’t start until the lawsuit is over,” Fox said.
“We do not know when (the drainage project) will start up again,” Colunga said. “The city and project coordinators will keep us updated once they have more information. There will be some impact on commuters. However, it will not be any greater than what we are experiencing now. Once the project resumes, the city and project coordinators will work with us to ensure the inconveniences to our commuters are minimized.”
Fox and Colunga said they will continue to monitor the construction and its impact on UIW.
“It is hard to plan at this time what plans lie ahead or a timeline,” Colunga said. “With the injunction in place, we will wait and see if and when the project resumes and then reevaluate our plan to accommodate any changes to the project and the new timeline.
“I have lived in this area for many years and I am excited to see the revitalization of Broadway from downtown to our front door (UIW). With the projected revitalization of this area, I understand that much of the old infrastructure needs to be modified or replaced before projected improvements can come to fruition.
“I honestly do not know what the underground structure looks like to render a suggestion. I remember the years of construction and congestion we faced with the 410/I-10 and the 410/I-37 interchanges, but once the projects were finished, it was such an improvement and was worth the headaches.”
Chief Jacob Colunga