Extension of Wonder World Drive set to open
road linking Hill country, i-35 to ease San marcos traffic
SAN MARCOS — Traffic will be flowing Saturday on San Marcos’ largest and most ambitious transportation project to date as the $26 million Wonder World Drive expansion opens to the public.
The four-lane road, to be open at 6 p.m., is billed as a connector between the Hill Country and Interstate 35, joining RM 12, which leads to Wimberley, with the highway. City officials say the road will ease traffic congestion downtown and in historical neighborhoods while providing better emergency vehicle access to the Central Texas Medical Center down the road.
Bordered by natural areas and hike-andbike trails and sporting dedicated bicycle lanes, the road also has an emphasis on green transportation.
Voters approved the 3.5-mile expansion of Wonder World Drive in a 1998 bond referendum. The Texas Department of Transportation will reimburse the city $3 million to $6 million a year for 10 to 20 years, depending on traffic volume. The federal government also kicked in $10 million for engineering.
“This is one of those projects where we have a lot of people to thank,” Mayor Susan Nar-
vaiz said Thursday. “This will primarily reroute the traffic that has been so hard on our heritage neighborhoods and downtown.”
One of the road’s benefits is that it will help keep large trucks from driving through downtown to access roads to the Hill Country, Narvaiz said. It also bypasses the many railroad crossings that famously gum up traffic in San Marcos.
The road features a bridge over Purgatory Creek, which necessitated a curvy and somewhat winding Wonder World Drive.
“We couldn’t find a more environmentally sensitive area to go through,” said Sabas Avila, the city’s assistant director of public services. The area includes a flood control dam, caves, endangered species such as the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo, aquifer recharge zones and a Native American burial site, Avila said.
Engineers attempted to save as many trees and plants as possible, officials said, and they put in hiking trails and added 10-foot bike lanes on either side of the road.
“It’s a model project for conservation,” Avila said.
Narvaiz said there are no intersections along the new stretch except for an extension of Craddock Avenue that’s due to be completed in August. This limits development along the road and puts the focus on mobility, she said.
The city will host a grand opening festival on the extension at 10 a.m. Saturday, including live music and free barbecue. A Run2Purgatory 5K will be held at 7 a.m.
City officials estimate that once the roadway opens, it will see 16,000 cars a day.
San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said the expanded Wonder World Drive will help keep trucks from driving through downtown as they head to cities in the Hill Country.
The Wonder World Drive extension is set to open to drivers at 6 p.m. Saturday after a daylong celebration featuring live music and barbecue. City worker Kristy Stark takes pictures of the new road Thursday.