VIA's $28-million Park & Ride project delayed more than a year
It somehow seems fitting: a big project designed to reduce delays on Hwy. 281 North has been delayed. By more than a year. News 4 Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila looked into what's causing the hold up with VIA's new Park & Ride facility.
Since the Spring of 2016 drivers have watched the 4-story structure slowly take shape at the congested intersection of Stone Oak Parkway Hwy. 281 North.
“I think I heard it's supposed to be a parking garage for maybe like a bus system?" guessed Northside commuter Ethan Linn.
With so much construction in the area it's easy to lose track of when it was supposed to be finished.
“I thought it was supposed to be sometime this year but I'm not totally sure," said another Northsider named Susie Garber.
Actually, VIA originally projected their 400-space park & ride facility would be done in late 2016. But the original contractor dropped out before construction even started, causing a long delay while another firm was selected.
The completion date was pushed back to Summer 2017. Then there were delays getting the required environmental permits for building over the Edwards Aquifer.
“We're working with our partners right now to make sure that proper ground water controls are in place so we can have clean water over the aquifer which is where the project is located," said VIA’s Rachel Benavides.
TxDOT, which is widening 281 through the area, was hit with violations from state environmental officials last month for allegedly not getting required approval.
But VIA says it's confident it can clear hurdles and finish the garage before the end of the year.
By early 2018 drivers will be able to park their cars and catch a bus downtown or to the medical center.
Will enough Northside commuters use the Park & Ride to justify the $28-million price tag? VIA says its projections show they will.
“I would, if it was easier to commute to work," said commuter Andy Hernandez.
But another driver named Ethan Linn told us he wouldn’t.
"Probably not, and honestly, it kind of sounds like I park my car to get on a bus to sit in traffic anyway."
VIA says that wouldn't be the case for long because 281 will eventually be getting an HOV lane and its buses will be able to take a ramp directly from the garage into the carpool lane.
Now if it can just get its construction project out of the slow lane.