More than two decades in the making, an extension of Wonder World Drive between Hunter Road and Ranch Road 12 will be opened to traffic before the week’s end.
Mayor Susan Narvaiz will preside at an official dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 24. The public is invited to join the celebration at the east end of the new parkway at Hunter Road.
“The extension provides a vital transportation artery linking Ranch Road 12 and the Hill Country to the I-35 corridor. This beautiful parkway will also reroute heavy truck and through traffic away from our historic neighborhoods and downtown,” Narvaiz said.
The extension has been a transportation priority for a succession of city councils since a Blue Ribbon Bond Committee recommended that leaders pursue construction in 1987. When the project made it to a citywide ballot more than a decade later, in 1998, voters overwhelmingly approved $1.5 million for right-of-way acquisition.
In 2005, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison won a $10 million federal earmark toward right-of-way, studies, permits and engineering for the roadway. Later that year, the Texas Transportation Commission approved a pass-through financing package wherein the city fronted the cost of the road, estimated now at about $26.38 million. The state will reimburse the city $3 million to $6 million a year, based on traffic volume. Permanent traffic counters will record traffic volumes on the roadway between Hunter Road and Ranch Road 12 with the first payment to the city scheduled to occur 13 months after the July 24 opening.
Saturday’s festivities kick off at 7 a.m. with the Run2Purgatory, a 5K Fun Run and Walk that is open to the public and free of charge. All race participants will receive a free commemorative t-shirt and can register on July 24 at the starting line on the east end of the Wonder World Drive Extension at Hunter Road.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies commence at 10 a.m. and include autos from Dick’s Classic Car Museum, introduction of dignitaries and dedication of the largest transportation project in the city’s history.
Along with live music, attendees will enjoy a thrilling Remote Control Car Race, a barbecue lunch prepared by City of San Marcos Fire and Police personnel, as well as guided tours of the new parkway and the Purgatory Creek Preserve hike and bike trail.
Parking for the day’s events will be at the east end of the Wonder World Drive Extension at Hunter Road and police officers will be on hand to direct traffic. Handicap and VIP parking will be available. Overflow parking will be located at Hernandez Intermediate School, 333 Stagecoach Trail.
Following conclusion of the festivities, construction crews will remove barricades and prepare for the 6 p.m. opening of the roadway from Hunter Road to Ranch Road 12. The Craddock Avenue Extension will remain under construction with an anticipated fall completion date.
The 3.2 mile project was designed by KBR of Austin and is being built by J.C. Evans Construction of Leander under the direction of Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer, Capital Improvements director David Healey and Public Services assistant director Sabas Avila.