The North New Braunfels Street Bond Project that was approved by voters in 2017 has seen a two-month delay, sparking frustration among the business community. The construction zone has been in effect since November 2021, with work progressing from Burleson Street to East Houston Street. The project was supposed to finish this month, but the city officials have warned against harsh working conditions and lack of public facilities. The problem has been exacerbated by the weather, causing delays in development.
The construction started on the left side of the walkway leading to Interstate-35 but switched to the right this year, which caused problems for small business owners. This change in construction placement is hurting businesses in the area, and they may go out of business because of it. Moreover, there are only three parking spaces available for pie pickup customers, one of which is reserved for handicap pass drivers. At Security Loans, half of the parking lot is closed for construction, leaving four handicapped parking lots available for shoppers. The delay is hurting the business as a whole, according to security loan manager Robert Aguilar.
Construction workers in hard hats and neon vests are drilling into concrete in the right turn lane and sidewalk in the middle of the road. The two-way traffic is guided by signals displayed on orange and white barricades to allow traffic to flow. However, this heavy construction is hindering small businesses in the area. Nika Cleaver, the owner of Black Business San Antonio, says that it is causing problems for customers since there are few parking spaces available due to the ongoing construction work.
The construction delay was initially due to public works problems related to old pipes. Two-way traffic then limited the space in which project contractors could work. Most recently, bad weather has caused further delays. The Responsible Bid Ordinance of the City of San Antonio states that contractor EZ Bel Construction LLC. Will incur a fine of $1,150 per day if the construction crosses the original contract date. The fine would go to the project. EZ Bel Construction did not respond to requests for comments.
The city council has approved a grant to help business owners who have lost income due to construction work across the city. Applications for grants ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 began in February for fifteen corridors under construction. Eligible applicants had to prove a loss of $10,000 or more after 2021. District 2 City Councilman Jalen McKee Rodriguez says his office and economic development staff have relocated north of New Braunfels after the legislature approved a COVID-era ARPA dollar-funded construction grant program.
The City’s Department of Economic Development has received 28 applications from business owners on North New Braunfels Street. Comparing the impact of construction on business owners with the impact of gentrification, McKee Rodriguez said that he is also frustrated with the two-month delay and does not want businesses to go out of business in the same neighborhood. The Economic Development agency of the city is doing its part to ease the complexity faced by business owners. However, sustainable solutions that do not rely on ARPA funding are needed to help businesses adversely affected by construction. The City will focus on the future, with small businesses still in business and requiring help.