30 Sep 2011, 10:39am
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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.

Construction starting next week on Wurzbach Pkwy

Wurzbach Pkwy construction phases

TxDOT announced today that work will start next week on the first of three phases to finally complete the Wurzbach Parkway.  Crews will begin November 1st on the section from Wetmore to Jones-Maltsberger, with completion expected in early 2014.  A month later, on December 1st, work is scheduled to begin on the segment from Blanco Rd. to West Ave.  That section should be done about a year sooner, in early 2013.

That leaves the final section from West Ave. to Jones-Maltsberger.  That stretch is scheduled to go to bid in May of next year.

All three sections will feature a four-lane divided parkway similar to that already in-place east of Wetmore.  Despite earlier uncertainty over costs, it appears now that the projects will include overpasses at Blanco, West Ave., US 281, Jones-Maltsberger, and Starcrest.  However, there still are no plans at this time for a full interchange at US 281.

The total cost of all three segments is expected to be around $130 million and is being funded¬†with Proposition 12 funds approved by the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) about a year ago.¬† Officials had originally hoped to get federal stimulus funds for the project, but when that didn’t materialize, the TTC took advantage of new Prop 12 funds authorized by the Legislature.¬† The Wurzbach project was the largest single Prop 12 project approved last year.

Work wrapping up at the Quarry, starting on De Zavala

Crews opened all the new lanes on Jones-Maltsberger at the railroad tracks by the Quarry this past weekend.¬† Finish-up work should be completed by Thanksgiving, just in time for the Christmas shopping frenzy.¬† As you may recall, work began there earlier this year to finally remove the long-standing bottleneck between the Quarry and US 281.¬† Work was expected to be finished last month, but this year’s unusual rain delayed things just a bit.

Meanwhile, work began last month on a long-awaited (or maybe long-feared) project to widen De Zavala between Babcock and Cogburn.  The project will widen the road to five lanes (two each way plus a center left-turn lane) and add sidewalks, curbs, and updated traffic signals.  The $17 million project is expected to be completed in mid 2012.

AGUA files suit to stop 281/1604 interchange

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.


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Terri vs Bruce

Bruce Davidson, one of members of the Express-News’ editorial board, wrote a spot-on editorial¬†in yesterday’s paper about how the root cause of toll roads is the Legislature’s and Governor’s resistance to increasing the gas tax.¬† His editorial essentially says not to blame the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) because they’re just playing the hand they’ve been dealt and that, in reality, they are working to find funding for 281 and other projects “wherever they can get it.”

Of course, the response out of¬†southern Comal County¬†was nearly instantaneous.¬† more »

13 Apr 2010, 5:43am
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Comments Off on Loop 1604 getting a helping of stimulus

Loop 1604 getting a helping of stimulus

Work starting up to widen Loop 1604
Work starting up to widen Loop 1604.

Workers began plopping orange cones into place along Loop 1604 near Randolph AFB and driving in heavy machinery last week. 

The job is to widen the road into a four-lane divided highway from FM 78 to Graytown Road by summer 2011, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Federal stimulus dollars are funding the $6.63 million cost.  

“These improvements have been in the works for several years but were unfunded,” TxDOT¬†engineer Frank Holzmann said in a statement. “With¬†availability of economic stimulus funding,¬†we now have an opportunity to move forward on this.”

But moving forward could be a slow and/or muddy affair for now. The National Weather Service has forecast rain throughout the week.

Terri’s at it again (part 1 of 2)

This past Monday, the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) held a public meeting to show their plans for the US 281/Loop 1604 interchange.¬† The interchange is being funded primarily with federal economic stimulus funds and therefore will be built toll-free, but that’s not enough for local outspoken toll-opponent Terri Hall.¬† She had a lot to say about the project on her MySA.com blog yesterday.¬† I¬†submitted a response to it last night, but as she has to approve it, it hasn’t been posted yet.¬†¬†(But I’m not really surprised.)¬† So I’m going to respond to her here on my turf.¬† Because her comments went all over the map, I’m going to break this response up into two posts: one about the costs of the interchange (today), and one about the environmental clearance it is getting (tomorrow).

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13 Jan 2010, 10:13pm
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TxDOT previews planned I-10 improvements

I-10 inbound at UTSA Blvd.

I-10 inbound at UTSA Blvd.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.¬† With my website update and the holidays and the ensuing aftermath, I’ve been a wee bit busy, not to mention just spending time with my adorable 16-month-old!¬† But I’m ready to dive back in, so here goes…

I just got home from TxDOT’s public hearing on their long-planned improvements to I-10 West.¬† As I mentioned earlier this week, my recollection was that the proposed changes would include adding an extra freeway lane in each direction and¬†removing¬†the existing outbound DeZavala exit.¬† That indeed still forms the core of the improvements package, but there were a few other goodies.

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TURF: “MPO rams 37 toll projects down San Antonians‚Äô throats”

Mobility 2035During my daily review of transportation news, I came across this the-sky-is-falling press release by staunch toll-opponent Terri Hall and her TURF organization.¬† As usual, TURF shows a continued lack of¬†insight of what’s actually happening and peppers the article with their predictable array of tried-and-true rhetoric, fallacies, and mendacities as they¬†denounce the large number of projects that are listed as possible toll and Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) projects in the new 25-year regional transportation plan.¬† Yes, there are¬†a substantial number of toll-option projects in the plan.¬† However, the outright panic by TURF is premature and demonstrates their failure to see and comprehend¬†the bigger picture and actually jeopardizes¬†badly-needed future projects.

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30 Nov 2009, 12:14pm
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Comments Off on Relief coming for Jones-Maltsberger bottleneck

Relief coming for Jones-Maltsberger bottleneck

Long a bane for shoppers trying to get to the Quarry Market from US 281 or vice-versa, improvements are finally on the way for the railroad crossing on Jones-Maltsberger.

Last week, the city announced that it had secured federal stimulus and state funds to widen Jones-Maltsberger. Presently, the street narrows from four lanes down to two at the tracks, then widens again back to four lanes on the other side. The improvements will consist of widening the road at the crossing to four lanes (two in each direction) plus a dedicated right-turn lane for traffic turning onto US 281 northbound.

According to the city, construction is set to start next February and be completed by the end of summer.

So what took so long to get this job done? My recollection is that there was some dispute between the city and TxDOT as to who was responsible for that section of roadway, not to mention the fact that any work involving a railroad crossing also has to include the railroad. Ergo, it took a while to get it all sorted-out. Then it was simply a matter of securing the funding, which is typically the sticking-point on most road projects.

UPDATE 1/8/10: San Antonio Express-News story

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