Construction and closures Roads Safety: Fredericksburg Road Medical Drive South Texas Medical Center
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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.
Construction and closures Roads: construction Loop 1604 Texas Department of Transportation widening
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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.
Construction and closures Roads: construction DeZavala Road I-10 widening
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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.
Construction and closures Roads: Braun Road construction Loop 1604 Shaenfield Road Texas Department of Transportation widening
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.
Construction and closures Roads: Ballenger I-10 Texas Department of Transportation Wurzbach Parkway
After the bankruptcy of Ballenger Construction late last year, several TxDOT and COSA projects were lain dormant. The good news is that their bonding company is nearing the end of the process to hire new contractors to get those projects finished. Work should be starting next month again on the I-10 project (Ramsgate to Loop 1604) and the “bookends” of the Wurzbach Parkway project. I’m not as familiar with the COSA projects, but I hear the Hunt Lane project should also have a new contractor by this time next month.
Fifteen years ago today, I put my esoteric interest out for the world to see. On March 1, 1998, the “Texas HighwayMan Pages” were born. Just like today, I covered everything I knew about Texas roads and the San Antonio freeway system. I still have that original site archived and wow, how things have changed, both in terms of the subject matter as well as in the quality of web publishing (and my skills in doing so.) That first site looks so amateurish today: cheesy, grainy, and oftentimes animated (for no good reason other than I could) graphics, brightly colored and/or busy backgrounds, low-res photos, and a generally clunky layout. But back then, that was cutting edge stuff. That first site was hosted on express-news.net, back when the Express-News actually provided consumer Internet access. About a month later, I added the Getting Around Germany section of my site, so I’ll be celebrating that anniversary im nächsten Monat.
Folks ask me why I put the site together and keep it up. Well, the answer is that it’s the classic labor of love. Although it seems like an esoteric topic, just about anyone who drives is interested in knowing what’s going on with the roads. Being interested in transportation all my life, I had a lot of the answers to folks’ questions in my head or at least in a pile of old newspapers and other assorted planning documents in my closet, so I thought why not share it with the world? And that’s what I’ve been doing for 15 years and plan to do for at least the next 15.
So it’s been over a year now since my last post here. It’s not for a lack of things to write about. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time I once had to devote to keeping this blog up. But I’m not giving up completely. I hope to be able to make some time here-and-there to start posting again. So stay tuned (if you’re still out there.)
Laws and policies Roads Safety: Speed limits Texas Department of Transportation
The Texas Transportation Commission approved increasing the speed limit to 75 mph on about 1,500 miles of mostly-rural Interstate highways in the state. Around the San Antonio area, the following stretches will see 75 mph signs soon:
- I-10 West from Loop 1604 to past Kerrville (where it’s already 80 mph)
- I-10 East from just outside Loop 410 to Waller County west of Houston
- I-35 South from Palo Alto Rd. to the existing 75 mph section south of Devine
- I-37 from just inside Loop 410 to Corpus Christi
I-35 between San Antonio and Austin was not approved for the higher speed limit.
The Legislature approved the higher speed limits last year.
- TxDOT’s 75 mph page – http://www.txdot.gov/safety/speed_limit/75mph.htm
Roads Safety: Texas Department of Transportation US 281 wrong-way drivers
In San Antonio and across Texas, there has been a rash of wrong-way drivers (WWD) over the past few years. In San Antonio last year, there was a WWD about every other day. Fortunately, 80% of those drivers caused no accidents. But sadly, seven people were killed by WWDs last year. Of no surprise was that the majority of WWDs were intoxicated.
To combat the problem, several agencies formed the San Antonio Wrong Way Driver Task Force in March 2011. Those agencies include TxDOT, SAPD, City of San Antonio Public Works Department, Bexar County Sherrif’s Office, and Texas Transportation Institute, and the Federal Highway Administration. The task force worked to determine the extent and characteristics of the local problem, evaluate previous research and countermeasures, and formulate a plan to test and implement countermeasures locally.
Construction and closures Roads: Loop 1604 SH 151 superstreet
UPDATE (11/1/11) - The changeover has been postponed until Wednesday.
Just back from vacay and have some local news to report. The final element of the package of improvements along Loop 1604 West that included two superstreet intersections will come online tomorrow. Namely, the left turn from southbound 1604 to SH 151 will be eliminated. Motorists wanting to go to SH 151 will now exit at a new exit ramp just south of Culebra, follow the access road, then cross 1604 at a perpendicular signalized intersection. The existing entrance ramp from Culebra will be closed and replaced by an improved entrance ramp at the SH 151 intersection. (For a schematic of these changes, see the link under “Additional information” below.)
Like the superstreet intersections, this change will most likely seem completely unintuitive for many folks. After all, southbound Loop 1604 traffic will now have to stop to allow traffic to enter SH 151 whereas before they didn’t ever have to stop. But this new arrangement will actually be safer overall and will help reduce congestion in the area. more »