mysanantonio.com - November 1, 2011, By Vianna Davila
San Antonio was awarded $25 million in federal money for transportation improvements related to Joint Base San Antonio, but it missed out on funds it sought to improve the Harry Wurzbach corridor near Fort Sam Houston.
The money, distributed by the Defense Department's Office of Economic Adjustment, will fund construction of a flyover connector from southbound Interstate 35 to Loop 410, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. The ramp will speed access to Fort Sam Houston and the newly renamed San Antonio Military Medical Center.
Currently, traffic headed south on I-35 uses a left exit to switch to 410, which can cause congestion for motorists headed to the bases, said Mike Frisbie, director of the city's Capital Improvements Management Services division.
The planned right-lane exit and flyover off I-35 “allows room and efficiency for those that are headed to the base,” Frisbie said. “Those that are continuing straight south, they don't have to worry about this merging traffic trying to cross over to get to 410.”
The Defense Department awarded nearly $300 million to four medical military sites affected by the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, including SAMMC, formerly known as Brooke Army Medical Center. The money was earmarked to improve transportation to the facilities.
San Antonio had asked the department to fund three separate projects, including $68 million to improve the Wurzbach corridor, which the city had put at the top of its priority list for funding. Ranked third was $32 million to enhance the area around I-35 and Binz-Engleman Road.
The connector project was second on the city's wish list.
“We're grateful obviously for the $25 million toward the 35/410 connector,” Frisbie said. “But yeah, it's a little disappointing because we were hopeful that we would get two projects.”
Frisbie said the city will regroup and look for more funding opportunities for Wurzbach, also known as TAPS Memorial Boulevard. The city and the San Antonio Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization have already invested $10.1 million in the corridor.
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland received $88.9 million for five projects. Fort Belvoir in Virginia was awarded $180 million for a single project, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington, won $5.7 million for a single project.
The OEA will distribute the money once the applicants provide additional materials, including comprehensive plans and environmental information related to the projects, said Lt. Col. Melinda F. Morgan with the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.