By Stephanie Rodriguez, Pulse staff writer
The West Villaret construction project continues to create dust and noise for students, faculty and staff of Palo Alto College this Fall 2013 semester.
The City of San Antonio approved the project in April 2013 to provide traffic congestion relief for Palo Alto College and the surrounding community. The project will widen the existing two-lane street to a four-lane street with a turn lane, bike lanes, sidewalks and an improved drainage system that will help protect students and residents from flooding while providing an expanded gateway to the college.
Although Palo Alto College has created alternate routes in an attempt to alleviate traffic concerns, many students still face problems during their daily commute.
“The construction is horrible! The vehicles are getting flat tires; rocks jump everywhere, hitting the windshield and breaking the glass,” said Estela Olivarez, a sophomore Nursing major at Palo Alto College. “Also, entrances are closed because of the construction.”
Currently, West Villaret Boulevard is a two-lane street. The main closure is the entrance from West Villaret onto San Jose Street, which runs between Medina and Guadalupe halls and Brazos Hall. Motorists may access the north side of the school through West Villaret and Jennifer Street or West Villaret and Acequias Street, which leads to the Vet Tech Building and Ozuna.
While some students may see it as a headache, other students, faculty and staff are excited for the changes to come.
“The construction is a real inconvenience at this moment, but it will alleviate traffic congestion once construction has been completed,” said Madalitt Martinez, senior secretary of Social Science at Palo Alto College.
Richard Hernandez, a sophomore Fire Science major at Palo Alto College, said, “The construction doesn’t affect me since my classes are on the 410 side of campus, but I can see how it can be an inconvenience for students coming from north of campus. From what I have seen living on the South Side and now going to college here, any improvement to the streets and drainage system is much needed and welcomed.”
Construction for the current project began in April 2013. Pronto Sandblasting & Coating & Oilfield Services Company, Inc., was awarded the $5,335,301 contract as part of the 2012-2017 Bond Program. The project was made possible in part by Palo Alto College, who donated $327,000 worth of right-of way. San Antonio Water System and CPS Energy will reimburse the city $729,931 for water /sewer construction and $232,230 for gas line construction.
“I like that fact that it was a joint project from the city, San Antonio Water System, CPS Energy and Palo Alto; it shows that the college has the support of the citizens and that the city wants it to grow,” said Hernandez.
Palo Alto College has made sure that students are kept up to date with street closures and alternate routes by providing detailed information on the college website under “Villaret Road Closures.”
Former Palo Alto President Ana “Cha” Guzmán worked with City Councilman Rey Saldaña to bring this project to San Antonio’s South Side. The completion of this project is not expected until the end of May 2014.