Mission Espada. Photo by Scott Ball.
Mission Espada. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

A portion of Espada Road, located in the Mission Parkway Historic District, will receive a much-needed facelift over the next year, including road reconstruction and widening, bike lanes, and new concrete curbs and driveways.

City Council awarded a more than $5.5 million contract to J. Sanchez Contracting Inc. from the 2012 bond for the Espada Road project that is set to begin in May.

Construction will occur along the narrow roadway adjacent to Espada Ditch from South East Loop 410 to Ashley Road, a portion that currently lacks sidewalks, and will be completed by July 2017, said Mike Frisbie, Transportation and Capital Improvements director and city engineer. The road as is is dangerous for bike, vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Redevelopment will make it a safer place for all users.

Espada Road Construction to start in May 2016. Graphic courtesy of Transportation and Capital Improvements.
Espada Road Construction to start in May 2016. Graphic courtesy of Transportation and Capital Improvements.

“We’re very excited about this project,” Frisbie said, adding that this will bring drainage improvements and underground utility upgrades for water, sewer, and gas lines. But along with the renovations, he said, the City is focused on “maintaining the aesthetics of the Mission trails” which could include installing colored paver bands along the street, brickwork along the Mission corridor, and decorative street lighting, among other improvements.

Project planners anticipate completing the job with minimal harmful impact on the city’s Spanish-colonial Missions and their surrounding areas, which received UNESCO World Heritage designation last July. The Missions are the first World Heritage site in Texas, and 23rd in the nation.

The City – along with the World Heritage Director Colleen Swain, several other World Heritage partners, and community members – has been developing a work plan to prepare for the large number of visitors that the special designation will bring to the Missions. A large portion of the plan includes capital improvements like the Espada Road project.

Espada Road before construction. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.
Espada Road before construction. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

San Antonio Water System (SAWS) has committed to pay $850,781.44, and CPS Energy will pay $168,009.89 for utility work associated with the undertaking. Council also approved a one-time capital improvements expenditure of up to $56,920 to Pape-Dawson Engineers, who will assist with construction phase services for the project.

J. Sanchez Contracting Inc. was one of nine bidders who responded to the project advertisement in February.

A new VIA branch that will service four of the city’s Missions will be implemented in June, with service to Mission Espada to begin once the construction in the area is completed.

(Read more: VIA Board Approves Downtown Route Changes for June.)

Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3), whose district includes the World Heritage developments, noted that redevelopment of the “very narrow and bumpy road” will enhance residents and visitors’ access to major destinations in the area.

“The Espada Road improvement project is vital to the residents of District 3 and the entire community,” she said. “The reconstruction of the street will also serve as a helpful connector to Stinson Airport, our World Heritage sites, and the Acequias.”

Areas surrounding the Missions will likely see more infrastructure improvement projects such as this one in the future, to better accommodate the city’s incoming World Heritage site visitors.


Top image: Mission Espada. Photo by Scott Ball. 

Related Stories:

Council Stresses Preservation of ‘Authenticity’ in World Heritage Work Plan

VIA Board Approves Downtown Route Changes for June

World Heritage Work Plan Continues to Take Shape with Community Feedback

World Heritage: Working Together on Next Steps

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Camille Garcia

Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com