Not gonna use the HOV lane? It still benefits you!

HOV-sign

TxDOT is preparing to build San Antonio’s first two high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-10 West and US  281 North. Construction of both is scheduled to start this year.

One comment I frequently hear about HOV lanes is from people saying they won’t use them, so they won’t benefit from them.  A corollary of that is that people who won’t use them don’t think their tax money should be spent on them.  As is often the case, both of these viewpoints fail to see the bigger picture.

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Alamo Ranch Parkway intersection getting lots of criticism

The recent opening of the overpass from SH 151 to Alamo Ranch Parkway is drawing lots of fire from residents of the area claiming that the new design is dangerous. As if on cue, a tragic crash claimed the lives of three people at that intersection just four days after the overpass opened. However, it should be noted that the crash happened on the eastbound side of ARP prior to the overpass, not coming off of it, so the overpass played no direct role in the crash.

That said, the increase in traffic caused by the overpass is overwhelming the four-way stop at ARP and Westwood Loop. The county has a traffic signal under construction there that will surely ease many of the problems folks are complaining about once it goes into operation, currently expected by the end of January. The county planned to have it operational by the time the overpass opened, but the construction of the new Casa Blanca Theater there required them to change the design in order to accommodate the driveway from the theater. Unfortunately, there was a significant delay in getting the plans for that driveway from the developer, which delayed the signal project.

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30 May 2016, 2:47pm
Communities Data visualizations
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Comments Off on Rural teens know their neighbors more than teens in cities

Rural teens know their neighbors more than teens in cities

Where teens live makes a difference in how well they know their neighbors, shows an analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

The data comes from a school-based survey of 6,504 youth in grades 7-12 in the U.S.

Nearly 4,700 adolescents living in either rural, suburban, urban or several other types of neighborhoods responded to: “You know most of the people in your neighborhood.”

Results show 83 percent of rural teens said yes, while 69 percent of suburban teens and 70 percent of urban teens said they do.

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Social capital in urban, suburban and rural settings

Research shows adults and communities benefit from social connections. Less is known about teenagers, and whether neighborhood features foster such social capital.

Studies tell us that where teens live can make a difference in their educational success, risky behaviors and social interactions. Also, youth spend a lot of time outside at a formative time in their development.

So, do urban, suburban and rural settings play a role in building social capital?

In a national survey of 6,504 adolescents, respondents were asked if they knew most of their neighbors. Turns out, suburban teens were most likely to say they did not.

question_1

However, not all social familiarity is the same. Gangs too have high social capital.

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29 Jun 2015, 11:18am
Construction and closures Roads Safety:
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Comments Off on Ribbon cut on Fred-Med project

Ribbon cut on Fred-Med project

After nearly 20 years in the making, TxDOT, COSA, and South Texas Medical Center officials celebrated the completion of the Medical Drive underpass at Fredericksburg Road this morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and opened the new lanes to traffic a short time later.

The nearly $15 million project was primarily done for safety, namely allowing ambulances quicker access to the Medical Center from I-10, bypassing the oft-congested Fredericksburg/Medical intersection.  As if on cue, the wailing siren from an emergency vehicle trying to navigate the intersection above interrupted the ceremony.  After the ribbon was cut, an ambulance and EMS squad truck were the first vehicles to “officially” use the underpass.

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24 Jan 2015, 9:30pm
Communities Data visualizations
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Comments Off on Diverse neighborhoods really do make a difference

Diverse neighborhoods really do make a difference

Odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities

Image of upward mobility data visualization by New York Times

Community planners have long touted the benefits of diverse neighborhoods. And they employed lots of anecdotes along with targeted studies to spread their enthusiasm.

Now a study, released in 2013 and updated last year, pulls together millions of records to give researchers powerful new insights on what drives a person’s chances of rising above the station of their birth.

For the first time, there’s enough data to compare upward income mobility across metropolitan areas, according to the New York Times. This allows consideration of local factors in a deep way that previous studies could not do — like where people live.

The story says upward mobility tends to be higher:

  • When poor families are more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods
  • When there are more two-parent households
  • With better elementary and high schools
  • When there’s more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups

Also, the story says, while regions with larger black populations had lower upward-mobility rates, researchers’ analysis suggests this was not primarily because of race. For instance, both white and black residents of Atlanta had low upward mobility.

Be sure to check out the online story, if anything to probe the data visualizations.

19 Mar 2014, 4:47pm
Construction and closures Roads:
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Comments Off on Loop 1604 West expansion continues

Loop 1604 West expansion continues

Loop 1604 meeting

TxDOT held an open house on March 18th to show their plans to improve Loop 1604 from Culebra south to Potranco.  That section of the loop is currently a four-lane divided highway with signalized intersections at SH 151, Wiseman, Military, and Potranco.  This project will upgrade that section of the loop to an expressway by adding overpasses at Wiseman, Military, and Potranco and building access roads and associated entrance and exit ramps.  The intersection of SH 151, although technically included within the project limits (mainly for signage purposes), would not see any actual changes with this project (more on that later.)  The $69 million project is set to begin in about a year and will take about 2 1/2 years to complete.

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19 Mar 2014, 1:07pm
Construction and closures Roads:
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Comments Off on What’s going on at I-10 and DeZavala?

What’s going on at I-10 and DeZavala?

If you’ve traversed I-10 at DeZavala recently, you may have noticed that the center divider is being removed.  Many folks have noticed and I’ve gotten the question more than once asking why.  A few have even asserted that they’re ripping out brand new barrier that was just re-built recently.

First off, the barrier that’s being removed is not new.  Yes, there have been several sections of barrier that were re-built in that same project area recently, but all of that was south of the Fredericksburg/Woodstone area.  You can tell the new barrier because it’s still the raw, dark gray color.  The old barrier is tan, and that’s what’s being removed at DeZavala.

Now to answer the “why”.  I-10 is being widened in that area, and consequently the DeZavala overpass needs to be widened to carry those additional lanes.  But it turns-out that the overpass also needs to raised a few feet in the process.  This means that they’ll have to tear-down the old overpass.  In order to do that, traffic will need to be shifted from one side of the overpass to the other while half of the bridge is demolished and re-built.  Therefore, the divider is being removed to allow for that traffic switch as well as the fact that it will need to be removed anyway since the bridge it sits on is being replaced.

15 Mar 2014, 9:43pm
Automobiles Commuting Data visualizations Travel
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Comments Off on Where to find alternative fuel stations in Texas

Where to find alternative fuel stations in Texas

If you’re going to invest in an alternative-fuel vehicle, you might want to check where you can fill up. The city you’re in makes a difference.

For those relying on biodiesel, you’re good to go in Austin and not so bad in San Antonio, recent data from DriveBiodiesel.net shows.

Dallas has a broad mix of E85 and natural gas pumps, according to E85Locator.net and CNGLocator.net. Houston has a decent spread of E85 stations.

West Texas? One station, in Midland. Natural gas.

One thing’s for sure, if you want to take a road trip in an alternative-fuel vehicle, plan well. Some places will leave you with fumes.

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Loop 1604 project breaks ground

Loop 1604 groundbreaking

It was so cold that I could feel my brain starting to freeze, but yours truly was standing out in the median of Loop 1604 between Braun and New Guilbeau this morning to witness the groundbreaking of the long-awaited Loop 1604 expressway project.  This $82 million project will extend the existing toll-free expressway cross-section at Bandera Rd. south to Culebra by building overpasses at Braun, New Guilbeau, and Shaenfield and adding continuous access roads and associated entrance and exit ramps.  It is expected to take about 28 months or so to complete.

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