DRIVING TIP #1: Scan the road

For this first bite-sized driving tip, I’m picking a topic that’s not even discussed on my Texas traffic laws page— scan the road.

Driving down the right lane of a major street recently, I crested the top of a hill and immediately saw a stalled truck in my lane nearly a mile down the road.  Traffic in both lanes was light enough to easily change lanes, so I moved to the left lane as soon as I saw the hazard.  There were two other cars traveling in the right lane ahead of me and BOTH of them continued down the lane until they were nearly on top of the broken-down truck.   At that point, they had to hit their brakes and make a sudden lane change to avoid hitting it.

“WTF?  Are these people blind?”

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Driving tips coming soon

The top-viewed page on my website texashighwayman.com is consistently the page on Texas traffic laws.  It’s obviously a topic lots of folks are interested in.  And from what I’ve seen on the roads, lots more folks need to look at it.  🙂

While that page was initially intended to highlight common questions folks have, it’s become quite comprehensive over the years.  If you take the time to read the whole thing, it’ll take you while and you’ll feel like you’ve been drinking from a fire hose.  So, I’ve decided to parcel-out some of the topics from that page in smaller doses here over the next few months, along with some additional tips that aren’t covered on that other page.

If you’re interested, I’ll announce postings on my Twitter and Facebook pages or just check back here periodically.

Until then, drive safe!
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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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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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19 Mar 2014, 4:47pm
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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
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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.

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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Ballenger projects starting back up

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.

1 Mar 2013, 1:46pm
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TexasHighwayMan.com turns 15!

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.

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