What’s in store for your Loop 1604 commute?

People mill about at a meeting for Loop 1604

People mill about at a meeting earlier tonight for Loop 1604

Here’s the gist of what’s being laid out, in a series of public meetings wrapping up tonight, for Loop 1604’s future.

The problem, officials say, is that traffic demand in 25 years will be twice as much as what can fit on the highway today. The lanes can currently handle about 80,000 vehicles a day, but demand is 110,000 now and will surge to 155,000 by 2035.

An environmental study is sizing up impacts of three basic strategies:

Buses and passenger rail. At best, this can meet 15 percent of demand when you consider that top-notch transit cities such as San Francisco, Washington and Boston snare about that much of the trips in those cities.  

Managing and improving traffic flows. This is done with engineering, like the super street idea, and behavior incentives that range from carpooling to staggered work hours and telecommuting. California enacted laws requiring large employers to use such commuting strategies but cut traffic just 3 percent.

Adding four lanes to the highway. Since each lane can handle about 20,000 vehicles a day, that would do the trick.

So you can see where the math leads. 

However, a dozen various community criteria will also drive decisions, and that produces a little more mix into the approaches.

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28 Mar 2010, 11:30pm
Automobiles Bicycles Commuting Roads Toll roads Transit Travel

Comments Off on 2005 Dodge Caravan 4th anniversary

2005 Dodge Caravan 4th anniversary

This is somewhat obscure but while searching through papers for the upcoming tax adventure, I happened upon the original sales document for my 2005 Dodge Caravan which I purchased exactly four years ago to the day, March 28, 2006.  Since then I have added 69,271 miles to its already high one year total of 28,702 – it was probably a rental that maxed out early – making a grand total, as of today, of 97,973. more »

12 Mar 2010, 12:01am
Construction and closures Roads Transit:

Comments Off on Downtown will be jam-packed Saturday

Downtown will be jam-packed Saturday

Photo from www.luminariasa.org.

Photo from www.luminariasa.org.

It’s going to get a little crazy this Saturday, with some 200,000 or more people converging on downtown and carrying on from morning to night.  

If you’re heading down there, or just passing through, have a plan. Several streets will be closed. And buses on a dozen routes will be rerouted throughout the day. 

First up, an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will thump and blast its way past the Alamo, starting at 11 a.m. Then the party will shift to the River Walk for an afternoon of dancing and music at the Arneson River Theatre and a 3 p.m. river parade.

Later, throngs of artists, performers, musicians and fans will light up La Villita and HemisFair Park for Luminaria: Arts Night in San Antonio, and hang out past midnight. The celebration highlights Contemporary Art Month.  

So if you want to be mobile in downtown San Antonio this Saturday, you might have to get a little creative. Good luck!

More on:

The only thing to look forward to is the past

Omnibus soaking its wheels in the SA river

Omnibus soaking its wheels in the SA river

With all the zippidy-doo-dah hoopla over the possibility of a return to streetcars, why not go the whole hog and bring back mule drawn omnibuses?  I mean, who else is doing that?  Let’s think outside the box and get out of Portland, Oregon’s shadow once and for all.  Think of the benefits.  No expensive overhead or the need to tear up streets for miles on end and tourists will love it.

Mule drawn streetcars were introduced in San Antonio in 1878 but omnibus service has that beat by seven years.  It cost 5 cents to go from Main Square to Alamo Plaza.  With all the money we’ll save by not installing staggeringly expensive streetcar systems and their unsightly overhead power lines, we could go back and charge the same fare in 2010 that it was in 1871.  I guess there is a flaw in my logic somewhere but, you know, I’ll be d****d if I know what it is.

3 Mar 2010, 11:22pm
Commuting Passenger rail Roads Toll roads Transit:

Comments Off on Streetcar dreams: Now it’s time to talk money

Streetcar dreams: Now it’s time to talk money

Streetcar from VIA Metropolitan Transit report (looks like it's in Portland).

Streetcar from VIA Metropolitan Transit report (looks like it's in Portland).

After starting the fiscal year by shaving $19 million in spending, including 330 jobs, the city is now being asked to kick in $17 million to build a two-mile streetcar line.

That’s just part of the bill to buy streetcars and lay rails along Broadway and South Alamo Street by 2014. The county, VIA Metropolitan Transit and the federal government could also pony up to help pay what would be an estimated $90 million.

City Council heard the pitch this afternoon.

“If there was any sticker shock … council members mostly kept it to themselves,” the Express-News wrote.

The city hasn’t made any commitments, at least not yet.

At $45 million a mile, the price tag is quite a bit cheaper than, say, turning U.S. 281 out by Stone Oak into a superhighway, or, I should say, tollway.

Ah, but already I’m talking apples and oranges. This quaint two-mile rail line wouldn’t be a wide commuter route helping connect San Antonio’s core to its fringes.

Nope, unlike U.S. 281’s role as an artery for sprawl, the rail line, if done well, would be a magnet for compact living, working and playing. The idea is to drive some growth to the inner city, by creating a place where people would gladly leave their cars behind more often. Tourists would love it too.

Nonetheless, critics and proponents will duke it out with such comparisons. And with so many angles on varying public and private costs, some visible and some not so visible, expect a debate that’s about as clear as mud.

Docs and links:

100th anniversary of San Antonio’s first traffic laws

Lewis bzirdsong in a 1910 Franklin on College Street, San Antonio

Lewis bzirdsong in a 1910 Franklin on College Street, San Antonio

It is, of course, one of the more minor centennial occasions.  You probably won’t celebrate it but you will, without noticing, except for this little reminder, observe it.  February 7, 2010 is the 100th anniversary of San Antonio’s first traffic ordinance.  Nine years after the first gasoline powered horseless carriage, eight years after the city gained its first automobile agency, seven after the creation of the San Antonio Automobile Club, and six years after the city mandated that all vehicles be registered and display ID plates or numbers, the city introduced written rules for all road users. more »

My first year as a born again cyclist in San Antonio

bike and TAround four o’clock in the afternoon of Thursday December 31st, zooming alongside the old San Antonio & Aransas Pass railroad tracks on Villamain between Mission San Juan and Mission Espada, in top gear and the wind at my back, I reached my own personal milestone by completing one thousand miles in the first year of owning a bicycle since I left Scotland in 1991.  Today, Jnauary 9th, also around 4:00 PM, on De Zavala Road at Clark High school I reached by personal goal of 1,040 miles.  That, of course, may seem like an obscure number, so let me explain. more »

6 Jan 2010, 9:59pm
Commuting History Roads Safety Transit Travel Uncategorized

Comments Off on Book review: Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt

Book review: Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt

Model T on unpaved roadI’ve just finished reading “TRAFFIC,” by Tom Vanderbilt, published by Vintage Books in 2009.  It is subtitled, “Why we drive the way we do and what it says about us.”  I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in trying to understand the mundane yet highly complex activity we call driving.

31 Dec 2009, 10:39am
Commuting Oil and gas prices Safety Transit Travel

Comments Off on psi – check your tires

psi – check your tires

Here’s a new year’s resolution you might adopt: Check the air pressure on your vehicle’s tires at the beginning of each month.  I was reminded of this when I checked mine at the beginning of this week.  I began to notice my vehicle, a 2005 Dodge Caravan, was not handling as well as it should.  Some of you may think it is oxymoronic to use handling characteristics in reference to a minivan but the thing just didn’t feel right.  Sure enough, each tire was 4 psi – pounds per square inch – low.  The ‘bus has new tires, maybe two months old, and I checked them in mid November, prior to a trip to Houston.  I was surprised how much the tires went down following the recent cold snap.  So, maybe you should make checking your tires a monthly chore.  Just being one or two psi down can really affect miles per gallon plus, it just feels better.

22 Nov 2009, 9:17pm
Commuting History Oil and gas prices Passenger rail Railroads Roads Transit Travel

Comments Off on SA – Austin passenger rail still dead

SA – Austin passenger rail still dead

Like the old Saturday Night sketch about Generalissimo Franco, passenger rail between San Antonio and Austin is still dead.  Oh a mortician applied a new coat of make-up, but the poor old stiff ain’t going nowhere.  After twelve years of failure, a new name and an application for $5 million of tax payer money was enough to create a blip of interest but even that has not lasted long.  Oh well.

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