Over $34.5 million in funding has been allocated toward six transportation, pedestrian and bicycle improvement projects throughout New Braunfels.

The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board recently awarded the city of New Braunfels and the Texas Department of Transportation the grant.

AAMPO funded the projects through money received from the Federal Highway Administration and TxDOT. The agency defined key priorities to fund in the next few years such as transportation alternatives, congestion mitigation and improving air quality through carbon reductions.

Two-minute impact

City of New Braunfels staff submitted four projects to AAMPO, totaling $12.2 million. Once completed, the projects are anticipated to improve traffic congestion and pedestrian safety.

City officials identified the projects submitted to AAMPO from the 2023 bond program. Projects that were not funded through the $99 million transportation proposition passed by voters in May 2023 were able to be funded through the project call. Some of the AAMPO funding will also be used to leverage the cost of projects funded through the bond, Transportation and Capital Improvements Director Garry Ford said.

The largest of the projects is the $6.84 million Gruene Area Complete Streets Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement project.

“We are working with the Gruene community to make sure that we’re maintaining the aesthetics within Gruene, not changing the look and feel but improving pedestrian mobility within the Gruene area,” Ford said. “We know it’s a very popular destination in the state, [with] high pedestrian activity. So we’re really excited about that project.”

Pedestrian improvements at various locations also include Alves Lane and Brooke Avenue, Hinman Island Drive and County Line Road and FM 725.

Quote of note

• "We're connecting into a lot of other improvements and trying to create a multi-modal network, that way there is an improvement to our connectivity." Garry Ford, New Braunfels Transportation and Capital Improvement Director

Connecting pedestrian pathways

The Gruene Area Complete Streets Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement project that has been funded by AAMPO will connect existing pedestrian mobility options in New Braunfels. The improvements will also connect with the Common Street Improvement Project, which was passed by voters in the 2023 bond and will include six-foot sidewalks.

Gruene-area project details:

• Creating shared-use paths

• Fill sidewalk gaps

• Improve bike lanes

A closer look

The Texas Department of Transportation also received funding from AAMPO for projects in New Braunfels. Tanya Brown, TxDOT public information officer for the San Antonio region, said that the two projects were submitted in conjunction with the city of New Braunfels based on local transportation needs.

“These projects will address areas of congestion and safety concerns at intersections with high turning movements,” Brown said.

The largest funded project is about $19.28 million toward intersection improvements at I-35 and Solms Road.

“I believe this project was to make some operational improvements at the Solms Road intersection with I-35,” Brown said. “This may include widening the bridge of I-35 and building turnarounds.”

TxDOT will also complete an improvement project at the intersection of Hwy. 46 and Mary Boulevard and Saengerhalle Road. According to Brown, the project will address safety concerns at the intersection.

According to City Manager Robert Camareno, staff will continue to analyze how the funding can help free up bond money for other projects.

The framework

Vehicle movement through intersections should also improve after traffic signal optimization study. Next year, officials will review how the city’s 60 traffic lights coordinate, with the intent to cut emissions and improve traffic flow, Ford said.

“That really has a benefit on congestion reduction and delay reduction, which obviously impacts air quality,” Ford said.

Clifton Hall, a transportation program manager at AAMPO, said it’s part of a regional effort to improve air quality in the San Antonio area.

“By looking at the signal retiming, you’re going to be moving cars much more quickly and efficiently through stoplights,” Hall said.

What’s next?

Ford said that the city is working with AAMPO and TxDOT to schedule the projects to take place between FY 2025-28 to align with the Transportation Improvement Program timeline.

Overall, Hall said he thinks the projects that received funding should make a positive impact on transportation throughout the city once completed.

“I think New Braunfels residents should be able to see a noticeable difference in traffic flow. ... It should make travel through New Braunfels and around I-35 and Solms [Road], for example, it should make that a lot more smooth, and we should see some really cool outcomes from these projects,” Hall said.