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.
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 »
There was a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on in the San Antonio area this morning as a 4.8 temblor struck about 50 miles southeast of the city, the largest on record for this part of the state.
The biggest quake around here before today’s was in 1993. Long-timers may remember that just a few days before that quake, inspectors had found some cracking in a pylon supporting the then-new upper deck of I-10 near Woodlawn. There was briefly some concern that the quake may have done additional damage. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case and the column was subsequently retrofitted with some additional tension rods.
I checked with the folks at TxDOT and they tell me that they sent inspectors out after today’s quake to look at the bridges on state highways in Atascosa County. Everything checked-out fine.
Construction and closures Roads: Loop 1604 stimulus funds Texas Department of Transportation Tommy Adkisson widening
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Local TxDOT officials joined with several dignitaries yesterday to cut the ribbon on a project that widened Loop 1604 near Randolph AFB. The 17 month, $6.6 million project upgraded 2.5 miles of Loop 1604 from a two-lane “farm” road to a four-lane divided highway. The project came in on-time and under budget.
Speakers at the ribbon-cutting included US Representative Henry Cuellar. Cuellar helped secure the federal economic stimulus funding to get the project off the ground.
This section of the loop has been in the news recently. A project to continue the expansion from its current terminus at Lower Seguin Road to I-10 is planned to start next year. However, county officials had briefly considered transferring funding from that project to construct the northern set of ramps at US 281 and Loop 1604. An alternative source of funding was found, however, thus allowing the widening project to continue as planned.
It’s worth noting that this expansion mirrors a similar expansion done on Loop 1604 West nearly two decades ago. Road improvements tend to be incremental or evolutionary. The road system San Antonio has today didn’t just drop out of the sky one day. The project dedicated yesterday upgraded a congested and dangerous two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway with traffic signals. This configuration is a substantial improvement over the previous road and is more than adequate for the current needs and for those in the foreseeable future, just as the expansion of Loop 1604 south of Braun Road was back in the ’90s. Will traffic growth eventually render this roadway obsolete? Maybe. But building a full-fledged expressway at this location now is unnecessary and would have been an injudicious use of scarce funding, just like doing so out on Loop 1604 West back in the ’90s would have been.
Roads: Gilbeau Road Loop 1604 Shaenfield Road superstreet
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The second of two superstreet intersections on Loop 1604 in San Antonio is slated to open tomorrow. The intersection at Shaenfield should be mostly online for motorists for tomorrow morning’s commute. There will still be some finish-up work continuing during the next few weeks, but the new traffic patterns will be in effect tomorrow morning. That means motorists coming from Shaenfield will no longer be able to turn left onto Loop 1604 northbound. Instead, everyone will turn right and those wanting to go north will then use a new turnaround about 1/4th of a mile downstream. Motorists wanting to turn left from Loop 1604 onto Shaenfield will still be able to do so using new dual left turn lanes.
If you’re observant, you’ll notice that there have also been left turn lanes built from southbound Loop 1604 that seem to go nowhere and a second turnaround north of Shaenfield that seems to serve no purpose. Those have been built in anticipation of a future extension of Shaenfield to the east. The City of San Antonio is currently in the planning stages for that.
The superstreet intersection at Loop 1604 and New Gilbeau opened about a month ago and has provided a noticeable reduction in congestion. The final element of the current package of improvements along that stretch of Loop 1604 will make changes the SH 151 intersection; it’s due to be completed later this year. An underpass for SH 151 at Loop 1604 is slated to begin construction next Spring.
Commuting Construction and closures Roads: Texas Department of Transportation Texas Transportation Institute
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Dallas motorists suffer the most highly congested road conditions in Texas, says a recent report from the Texas Department of Transportation.
The state’s top three bottlenecks are all located in Dallas County, according to the 100 Most Congested Roadway Segments in Texas. But while Dallas has the hottest spots, Harris County actually has more of them. The Houston area has 31 on the worst road conditions traffic list while Dallas has 21.
Road conditions for Fort Worth are next in line for headaches, with 15 tight spots, followed by San Antonio with 11 and Austin with 10.
Here are the top 10 most congested roads and their respective counties:
It’s been 30 years in the making. Today, local officials gathered at Walker Ranch Park to officially break ground on the final section of the Wurzbach Parkway. The segment, from West Ave. to Jones-Maltsberger, is actually already under construction, along with the two adjacent segments. When they’re completed in 2014, the long-awaited east-west thoroughfare will finally be complete.
Speaking at today’s groundbreaking were the Wolffs (Nelson and Kevin), Lyle Larson, local TxDOT district engineer Mario Medina, and TxDOT’s new interim executive director John Barton. Somewhat surprisingly, there was little media coverage of the event; only KABB and KTSA had stories on it.
For more information about the three current projects, see my site here:
Texas Highway Man – Wurzbach Parkway
If you have a lead foot, then you’ll love this news.
First, if you hadn’t heard already, the Legislature earlier this year approved– and the governor signed– a bill that would raise the statutory maximum speed limit for state highways to 75 mph (excluding, of course, the existing 80 mph speed limit on some sections of I-10 and I-20 out in West Texas.) Texas now joins all but a handful of states west of the Mississippi with a 75 mph top speed. The limit can only be increased on roads where an engineering study determines that it’s safe to do so, but if past practice holds true, that should be the majority of roads that are currently capped at 70 mph.
Even better, the bill finally eliminates the matrix of speed limits for daytime/nighttime and cars/trucks. All speed limits will now apply to all vehicles at all times. Texas was the only state to still have a different nighttime limit and one of the few with a separate limit for trucks.
The new law takes effect September 1st. A separate effort to increase the maximum speed to 85 mph died.
More recently, the speed limit on the northern arc of Loop 410 has gone up from 60 mph to 65 mph. With the recent completion of construction to widen the freeway to 10 lanes, TxDOT completed a speed study that showed the 85th percentile speed being 65 mph, so in accordance with agency engineering guidelines, TxDOT asked the City of San Antonio to officially increase the speed limit to 65 mph north of US 90. Signs went up this past week.
I also recently noticed that the speed limit along Loop 1604 south of Braun Rd. increased from 55 mph to 60 mph.