A monumental project: a successful road reopening during skybridge construction


How advanced planning laid the foundation for success

Months before the university began building the Tom C. Frost Skybridge to connect the Multispecialty and Research Hospital to the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio, planning was crucial to ensure that road closures during the installation of the exterior of the skybridge would be successfully communicated to the community and the impacted road would reopen on schedule.

This monumental feat was accomplished through meetings with local stakeholders to determine logistics, traffic control, the timeframe needed to close a portion of Floyd Curl Drive at the intersection of Wurzbach Road and how to best communicate the road closure to the community. Through these collaborative efforts, it was determined that the road closure would take place Sept. 8–Nov. 19.

The university’s long history with Vaughn Construction helped the institution adhere to this timeline. Since 2008, the construction firm has worked with the health science center to build the South Texas Research Center (STRF), the Center for Oral Health Care and Research, the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies and the connector bridge to the STRF, and most recently, the new Multispecialty and Research Hospital with the skybridge to the Mays Cancer Center.

“From our previous experience erecting the bridge between Barshop and STRF, we understood the magnitude of having Floyd Curl Drive shut down for an extended period of time,” said Michael Charlton, PhD, CHP, LMP, CIH, CSP, CHMM, vice president and chief facility planning officer, Facilities and Capital Planning. “Many months of planning went into this shutdown, beginning even before construction of the Multispecialty and Research Hospital started.”

Prior to the exterior skybridge installation, Vaughn Construction double- and triple-checked concrete column locations and made several trips to the bridge fabricator’s shop to ensure that, once onsite, the skybridge — named after the late San Antonio business leader Tom C. Frost, thanks to the generosity of San Antonio business owners and philanthropists Carlos and Malú Alvarez — would fit together without any issues.

Once the steel skeleton of the bridge was complete, the exterior skin-installation subcontractors worked around the clock on the portion of the bridge above Floyd Curl Drive to cut the schedule on this portion of work in half, Charlton said.

“The forethought put into this prior to hiring the subcontractors made this process go much smoother because the manpower, extended hours, materials and dollars were already included in their contracts,” Charlton said. “The efforts and diligence of everyone involved in this process ensured an extremely successful build.”

A team effort

Successful communication efforts surrounding the road closure were also key to ensuring that patients and the university community were informed well in advance of the road closure so that alternate routes could be planned and extra time factored in for travel to locations impacted by the skybridge construction.

Thanks to coordinated efforts among Facilities and Capital Planning; Marketing, Communications and Media; the UT Police Department; and many other stakeholders, the communications campaign successfully reached community members to provide advanced notice of the road closure and facilitate the planning of alternate routes to impacted locations.

Next major skybridge milestone

Once the exterior skin of the skybridge is complete on the horizontal portion of the bridge, the next major milestone is to complete the new elevator tower that will connect the bridge to the Mays Cancer Center, Charlton said. Inside the tower, there will be an elevator that will transport people from the bridge to Levels 1, 2 and 3 of the cancer center. Additionally, new exterior doors have been cut into the existing stair tower that will provide emergency egress from the tower down to ground level next to the Shipping and Receiving Office at the cancer center loading dock.

The skybridge project is anticipated to be complete in September 2024.

“I’m grateful for the contributions of the entire planning and construction team in this collaborative effort,” Charlton said. “I truly hope the entire UT Health community is proud of this architectural marvel in the South Texas Medical Center.”







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