Steve Vaughn, the Redpoint Apartments bus driver, experiences difficulties driving residents to and from Texas State University as a majority of the route is under construction.
Vaughn is one of hundreds of drivers who navigate through the city each day. San Marcos, Texas is home to 38,000 Texas State University students, around 80% of which live off campus and commute to campus. Students often ride the TXST shuttle busses, private apartment busses or drive to campus.
The Texas Department of Transportation has several projects going on along the Interstate 35 corridor. Specifically in San Marcos, there have been road closures, bridge expansions and road repavements.
“I-35 serves as the backbone of the local, regional, and national transportation network. With more than 155,000 vehicles traveling on this segment of I-35 each day, the I-35 at SH 123 project was designed and developed to improve safety and mobility for all modes of transportation,” TxDOT Southwest Communications Director Diann Hodges said.
The construction project specifically affecting the Redpoint bus route is the I-35 at SH 123 project.
“TxDOT hosted a project open house in October 2016 to discuss the proposed improvements with the community in San Marcos. The final schematic and environmental documentation was completed in August 2017,” Hodges said.
The construction officially started in August of 2021 and is funded by Capital Metropolitan Planning Organization and TxDOT.
Like previous years, the estimated construction cost and funding for this project is $107 million.
“All state and federally funded projects in metropolitan areas will be selected through the metropolitan planning process,” Hodges said. “Projects such as these must be included in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan and Statewide Transportation Improvement Program before any work is initiated.”
The construction plan was broken up into seven phases to complete the project in a timely manner and maximize efficiency.
“Currently, crews are working on key tasks associated with phase four, reconstructing the northbound I-35 mainlanes,” Hodges said. “In recent months, crews have shifted I-35 mainlane traffic and demoed the I-35 bridge over SH 123. The purpose of this work is to widen the bridge over SH 123.”
With a project with multiple phases like this, the construction workers work on several phases at once and sometimes pause one phase to work on another.
“Project teams use these approaches to ensure an efficient project construction timeline and to avoid travel disruptions during important community events or holidays. The current phase is estimated to be complete by mid-2023, weather permitting,” Hodges said.
With the workers trying to complete each phase, the equipment can be seen spread out alongside the interstate and Frontage Roads.
Due to the equipment and construction along North and South I-35 Frontage Roads, it has affected how the Redpoint bus runs and picks up residents to go to the TXST campus.
Vaughn has not only had to change where he picks up students, but he has also had to change routes due to the construction.
Although the routes constantly change, Vaughn has learned to adapt to the construction.
“You got to adjust to traffic,” Vaughn said. “It’s out of your hands.”
Because most of the route is under construction and there are lane closures, Vaughn has experienced challenges while driving the bus.
“It’s inconvenient,” Vaughn said. “I’ve blown a tire making a corner where we couldn’t go all the way through.”
This incident occurred on North I-35 Frontage Road right beside Hooters and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. In this area, the workers are reconstructing the roads and exit ramps. Therefore, barriers were put in place, which makes it more narrow for the bus to navigate through.
While Vaughn struggles with driving through the construction, Redpoint residents have also been affected by the inconvenience.
Although inconvenient, Redpoint residents still rely on the bus.
“Overall, I think the Redpoint bus definitely gets the job done,” Briana Hacksisombath, a Redpoint resident and TXST student said.
The bus also helps students with no other mode of transportation a way to get to campus at no cost.
“Honestly, taking the Redpoint bus to campus and back is not that bad,” Valerya Garriga, Redpoint resident and TXST student said. “It’s a solution to not having a car and still being able to get to classes speaking solely from my situation alone.
For more information about this construction project, click here.