Apr 18, 2023 - News

San Antonio adds second contractor to St. Mary's Strip construction

Illustration of a road sign with shaking hands on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The city is bringing a second general contractor to the beleaguered St. Mary's Strip project, an uncommon move with the goal of speeding up access for local businesses — but it won't help construction wrap up faster.

Driving the news: Local general contractor E-Z Bel Construction will begin work on North St. Mary's Street on Tuesday, assistant city manager Rod Sanchez tells Axios. More than two years into construction, the company joins lead contractor SpawGlass.

Why it matters: Business owners have criticized SpawGlass and said the city hasn't held the company accountable for delays.

Details: E-Z Bel will work on the south end of the street to finish driveways near businesses including Burger Boy, in addition to some drainage work.

  • The project is on track to be finished by early summer, according to the latest timeline.

What they're saying: "We'd like to finish a lot of that south side," Sanchez tells Axios. "We can knock that out, move some of those barricades over — have more of a complete looking project."

Catch up fast: The $11.6 million North St. Mary's Street construction project is taking at least six months longer than expected due to expanded project work and sewer issues.

  • Business owners have long blasted city leaders over the project's timing and complained that customers can't easily access bars, restaurants and shops along the popular corridor.
  • When finished, The Strip will have wider sidewalks, bike lanes and better lighting.

Yes, but: Sanchez says the city's decision to bring on a second contractor isn't related to SpawGlass' performance.

  • "Spawglass is doing fine, but if we can expedite things, that's what we want to do," Sanchez says.

Of note: A spokesperson didn't immediately provide information on how much the city will pay E-Z Bel and how much less money SpawGlass will receive.

Zoom out: It isn't common for the city to tap an on-call contractor to step in on a construction project, although it has happened at least once before, Sanchez tells Axios.

  • Officials recently brought on E-Z Bel to finish another 2017 bond project near Auldine and Burr Oak drives.
  • In that case, the contractor was well behind schedule and "just not getting it done," Sanchez tells Axios.

How it works: The city has an on-call contract with E-Z Bel, so officials didn't need to ask the City Council for approval to bring the company on.

What's next: Curbs, sidewalks, drainage, landscaping and lighting must still be completed before construction crews are done with The Strip.

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