A view of the Tree of Life plaza on the San Pedro Creek. Image courtesy of the San Antonio River Authority.
A view of the Tree of Life plaza on the San Pedro Creek. Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio River Authority

Utility construction on the long-anticipated San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, which will transform the concrete flood control system into a vibrant linear park, will begin mid-December, officials said Thursday.

The team with Sundt/Davila Joint Venture, the project’s construction manager, will begin tunneling under Houston and Commerce streets, just west of Camaron Street, to implement underground bores for utility and internet/cable relocation near the creek.

Officials have been working with SAWS, CPS Energy, and internet/cable providers such as AT&T, Grande, and Spectrum, formerly Time Warner Cable, to expedite the process ahead of Phase 1 construction in the actual creek channel, which is slated to begin in January 2017.

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Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio River Authority

This means partial and full road closures and likely traffic congestion, dust, and noise in the area for the duration of construction, said Kerry Averyt, watershed engineer for the San Antonio River Authority, at Thursday’s San Pedro Creek subcommittee meeting.

“We will have to have a full closure on Commerce to do some utility work,” Averyt said, but the team is trying to avoid concurrent closures of both Houston and Commerce streets.”This is something that really just came to light a couple weeks ago, so we’re working to figure out the best option for that.”

The construction sites will be marked with colorful, new signage such as the images below.

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One of the key elements in ensuring the project’s success will be frequent communication with the surrounding community as construction progresses, officials said, especially since the creek is situated in the densely populated and developed downtown area.

The River Authority, which is managing the project, is working on boosting the improvements project’s social media presence to keep the community aware of important design and construction updates. The project team is hoping that regular communication dispatched from the project’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts will help keep the area business and property owners in the loop regarding road closures or other effects the construction may have on their properties.

The River Authority also is working on updating the project’s website, spcproject.org, to include more resources for the public regarding the effort. Users can click a new construction tab to access progression photos, information about street closures and detours, and sign up for construction tours. A mobile app is also in the works to provide similar information on the go.

The social media accounts and the new website are expected to launch by Dec. 15, just before a public luncheon the River Authority will host to provide information and answer and questions from the general public about the improvements project. Officials are currently meeting one-on-one with various property owners near the creek and also will host a property and business owner mixer on Nov. 30.

Along with the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, a number of hotels and mixed-use developments slated for implementation in the coming years will bring a surge of construction to downtown. Construction on the new 23-story Frost Bank Tower is also set to begin by the end of this year.

Over the next few years, San Pedro Creek will be enhanced with various cultural and artistic amenities along its banks, all paying tribute to the creek’s unique indigenous history. The segment of the project from the creek’s inlet to Dolorosa Street is expected to be completed by April 27, 2018, just in time for San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebrations in May 2018.

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