The project looks to add 1.5 miles of restored and preserved creek habitat, a new community park, and an additional four lanes to Discovery Street, as well as sidewalks, bike facilities and a bike lane.
It also includes creating raised roadways and bridges over the creek (at Bent Avenue and Via Vera Cruz) to reduce flooding and enhance safety.
The project, headed by SEMA Construction and 4Leaf Construction Management, costs a total of $108 million, including a construction contract of $61.58 million.
Isaac Etchamendy, the city’s project manager for the Creek Project, told The Coast News that the funding comes from a variety of different sources.
“The bridges are funded through the Highway Bridge Program, which is a federal funding source,” Etchamendy said. “The majority of the other funding sources are local and regional improvement funds such as TransNet, for example. We also have another grant for the construction of the parks that we’re building.”
The city began construction of the two-lane bridge on Bent Avenue on June 30 and closed it to through traffic between Discovery Street and Creekside Drive. Construction of the bridge is expected to last a year, according to the city.
Though many San Marcos residents have expressed excitement about the project, many have also taken to social media and Facebook groups to express their frustration at the long process, pointing out that a year-long closure of Bent Avenue is inconvenient and excessive.
San Marcos resident Vera Knox gave The Coast News this statement on the project: “It seems like it took a while to get started, but now they are busily at work. I am looking forward to how the project will turn out, it sounds beautiful. … I imagine that it will increase the value of our neighborhood, too. The only frustration I have is traffic, not being able to use Bent. I don’t have a problem with Via Vera Cruz.”
Etchamendy told The Coast News that the discovery of endangered birds on the construction site and some slowdown due to utilities caused some delay in the construction of the Bent bridge during the summer, but construction has since resumed.
“We discovered that there was an endangered bird species that were nesting in the area of the work — a federally and state-listed endangered species,” Etchamendy said. “We had to create buffers to stay away from the nesting birds to allow them to mature and then eventually migrate. As much as it can complicate construction, we’re happy to see a species thriving out there.”
Etchamendy added that the city has provided detours, regular updates to the Waze navigation app and “Open for Business” banners for nearby businesses who may be affected by the Bent closure.
“This project will transform the San Marcos Creek from something that most people don’t recognize into a feature of the community,” Etchamendy said. “By placing a park alongside, we want to allow people to engage with the natural environment, and we’ll be restoring that region to allow the biology to flourish in the area, as well as reduce the flooding risk to the nearby neighborhoods.”
For regular updates and more information, residents can visit https://www.san-marcos.net/.