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 »
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.
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.
Roads: Braun Road Gilbeau Road Loop 1604 Shaenfield Road superstreet
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The 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.
Roads: Alamo Regional Mobility Authority Loop 1604 superstreet US 281
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.
Roads: Basse Road Castroville Road congestion Culebra Road Fredericksburg Road I-35 Loop 1604 Nacogdoches Road Texas Department of Transportation US 281 Wurzbach Road
If you didn’t see it, the Express-News editorial board took AGUA to task today over their 281/1604 interchange lawsuit, calling the legal action “stunningly irresponsible” and saying that “(a)ny notion that (AUGA is) operating in good faith now lacks credibility.” Furthemore, the editorial reveals some of the ludicrous demands made by AGUA. Check it out:
There’s also a good John Branch cartoon:
In reader comments posted yesterday in response to the Express-News’ story about AGUA’s lawsuit to stop the US 281/Loop 1604 interchange, several posters were calling for boycotts of local businesses listed on AUGA’s “donors” page. Today, that list of businesses is gone from AGUA’s site. Reading between the lines, I think it’s pretty obvious that the heat is already on AGUA from their donors over their wildly unpopular and inane decision to sue.
What effect do you think this will have, if any?
Roads Toll roads: AGUA Alamo Regional Mobility Authority interchange Loop 1604 stimulus funds US 281
In what really isn’t a surprise (at least to me), the enviro-wackos at Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AGUA) have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the planned US 281/Loop 1604 interchange project, which would build the first four direct connectors at that intersection. According to an early Express-News report, AGUA claims that the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) didn’t kowtow to their demands, so they had no choice but to file a lawsuit.