14 Oct 2018, 8:21am
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Why haven’t they widened Loop 1604?

A sign on Loop 1604 in 1983 – It’s just true today as it was then!

One of the biggest gripes among San Antonio drivers is that Loop 1604 North, from roughly Bandera Rd. to I-35 on the northeast side, is still just two lanes each way and, as a result, is often congested.  It may seem like TxDOT isn’t doing anything about it, but that’s not the case.  An expansion of 1604 has been in the works since the last millennium, but has gotten sidetracked for several reasons over the years.  Fortunately, there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

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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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19 Mar 2014, 4:47pm
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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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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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Loop 1604/SH 151 changes tomorrow

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 »

30 Sep 2011, 10:39am
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Comments Off on Ribbon cut on Loop 1604 project in NE San Antonio

Ribbon cut on Loop 1604 project in NE San Antonio

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.

14 Sep 2011, 10:14am

Comments Off on Second Loop 1604 superstreet intersection opens tomorrow

Second Loop 1604 superstreet intersection opens tomorrow

lp1604signThe 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.


Speed limits going up

West Texas speed limit signs

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.

17 Aug 2011, 8:00am

Comments Off on First Loop 1604 superstreet intersection opens tomorrow

First Loop 1604 superstreet intersection opens tomorrow

LP 1604 superstreet signThe first of two superstreet intersections on Loop 1604 West is set to open Thursday morning in time for rush hour. Crews have been working this week to pave and complete the other finishing touches. The final work will be done tonight to convert the intersection to its new configuration.

Starting tomorrow morning, traffic coming from New Gilbeau will no longer be able to turn left onto Loop 1604 southbound. Instead, all traffic will turn right with those wishing to go southbound then taking the new turnaround about 1,500 feet downstream. Traffic headed southbound on 1604 will still be able to turn left onto New Gilbeau.

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Loop 1604 superstreet approved

The Alamo Regional Mobility Authority announced late yesterday that they had received federal environmental approval for their planned Loop 1604 super-street project.  That project, which will build two super-street intersections (one each at New Gilbeau and Shaenfield) as well as improvements to the intersection at SH 151, is now expected to start construction in January 2011 and be complete by August.  You can read my previous discussion on the planned improvements here.  Work on the Braun Rd. intersection improvements was recently completed and has resulted in a substantial reduction in congestion.  In fact, my wife told me yesterday to extend kudos to those responsible for it!

Meanwhile, after weeks of rain, crews were finally able to complete work on the second of four super-street intersections on US 281.  The Marshall Rd. intersection was completed this past weekend leaving the Stone Oak/TPC Pkwy. and Evans Rd. intersections left to do.

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