New Road at Port San Antonio Bolsters Regions’s Aerospace, Logistics Opportunities - South Texas Alliance for Regional Trade

Dec 5, 2013

Extension of 36th Street opens new sites for building hangars, aircraft workshops at Kelly Field

The completion of major new road construction into the heart of Port San Antonio positions South Texas for growth in the aerospace and logistics sectors for years to come.

The new 1.7-mile, four-lane extension of 36th Street from Highway 90 into the heart of Port San Antonio at Billy Mitchell Boulevard allows for the future closure of North Frank Luke Drive—a small road that runs parallel to the runway at Kelly Field, the Port’s industrial airport. As a result, an additional 400 acres at the Port will have direct airfield access and serve as ideal sites where new hangars, workshops and other facilities can be built to support the growth of the region’s aerospace industry.

There are already 14 aerospace-based companies at Port San Antonio with an employment base of 4,000 and generating $1.5 billion in local economic activity each year. According to the SABÉR Research Institute, a collaborative between St. Mary’s University and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, full development of the 400 acres opened by the new road could support as many as 8,000 additional aerospace jobs.

The extension also creates redundant access at the 1,900-acre industrial park—an important feature to support growing logistics activity, increased commuter traffic and keep commercial vehicles away from residential streets near the Port. Including its aerospace customers, the Port is presently home to over 80 organizations with an overall employment base of 13,000.

Today, only about 40 percent of Port San Antonio’s acreage is developed for commercial use. Upon full build out, Port officials estimate that as many as 35,000 people could work on the property, and the new road plays an essential role in future development.

The 36th Street project between Highway 90 and Billy Mitchell Boulevard represents a longstanding collaboration between Port San Antonio, the City of San Antonio, CPS Energy, San Antonio Water System (SAWS), the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.

The first phase was completed in 2005 when TxDOT improved the intersection of Highway 90 and 36th Street. The project’s main component—the extension of the road into the heart of the Port—broke ground in 2010. The phases that were just completed include $8.6 million in support from Port San Antonio, which provided design services and transferred the corresponding land to the City; $9.4 million in combined city funding through the 2007 bond and certificates of obligation; and the MPO, which provided $15 million through the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), allowing the work to commence the following year.

The City’s Capital Improvements Management Services (CIMS) department oversaw construction, in collaboration with Port engineers. CPS Energy and SAWS respectively moved electric and water infrastructure to conform to the new road, including the relocation of a substation so overhead power lines will not interfere with the movement of aircraft.

“This project is critically important as we develop Port San Antonio to its highest and best use and create the conditions that maintain and grow quality jobs for the region,” said Port San Antonio President and CEO Bruce E. Miller during the road’s opening ceremony earlier this month. “It has been a true partnership from day one.”

“Strategic investments in Port San Antonio help grow important industries, particularly the aerospace sector,” said San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro at the event. “The hard work that’s gone into making this infrastructure a reality will help businesses and generations of workers build strong futures here for years to come.”

“Expansion of the platform at Port San Antonio highlights the important role San Antonio plays in the global economy,” said Congressman Joaquín Castro in a statement. “Combined with a well-prepared workforce, the land now open at Kelly Field creates a powerful reason for the aerospace industry to invest and grow in San Antonio.”

Construction of 36th Street will continue beyond Billy Mitchell Boulevard next year thanks to $6 million in new funding obtained through the City of San Antonio’s 2012 municipal bond program, a $1.7-million TxDOT grant and $3.7 million in additional planning and design support from the Port, including the transfer of corresponding land to the City. This will extend the road by approximately another mile until it intersects with General Hudnell Drive close to existing hangars, workshops and office buildings where the majority of people who presently commute to Port San Antonio work. It also creates redundant access that improves related logistics activity.

As additional resources are identified, the road could extend beyond Port San Antonio toward the south and connect to IH-35 and other regional economic engines, including Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas and Texas A&M University-San Antonio, as envisaged in the city’s major thoroughfare plan. With its proximity to State Highway 151 near State Highway 90, in time the 36th Street extension will become part of a new trade corridor connecting western and southern Bexar County.

Completion of 36th Street from Highway 90 to Billy Mitchell Boulevard allows for the development of approximately 400 acres on the north end of Kelly Field. The sites, with direct access to the runway, are ideal for construction of hangars, workshops and other buildings to support future growth of the aerospace industry in the region.

In 2014 construction will commence that will extend the road further—between Billy Mitchell Boulevard and General Hudnell Drive. Future phases could reach beyond the Port to the south and connect with IH-35, as indicated in the City of San Antonio’s major thoroughfare plan.