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: Babcock Road Blanco Road Bulverde Road intersection Medical Drive South Texas Medical Center superstreet US 281 widening
Earlier this week, crews opened all the new lanes on the final stretch of Blanco Road outside Loop 1604, specifically from Wilderness Oaks to south of Huebner. Last month, the new lanes north of Wilderness Oaks were opened. All that’s left to do now is some striping, signage, and other “punch-list” items and this long-awaited improvement will be completed. Along with the recent completion of the US 281 superstreet (well, it too is still getting finishing touches), traffic in and around Stone Oak should start to see appreciable improvements. Additionally, off to the east, work on widening Bulverde Road from 1604 to Evans is ongoing (expected completion is late 2012) and the city is in the initial planning stages to widen Stone Oak Boulevard to six lanes.
Meanwhile, work is scheduled to start in the next week or so on the latest Medical Center intersection improvement project. Crews will begin rebuilding the Babcock/Medical intersection in a manner similar to the other recent intersection upgrades. I haven’t see the plans yet (I’ll update this post if/when I do), but I suspect there will be dual left turn lanes from southbound Babcock onto Medical and probably dual right-turn lanes from westbound Medical onto Babcock in addition to right-turn bays in all four quadrants and other improvements. And nearby, work on the Hamilton-Wolfe/Floyd Curl intersection is wrapping-up; I expect it to be essentially complete by the end of this month.
Construction and closures Roads: stimulus funds Texas Department of Transportation US 281 Wurzbach Parkway
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.
Construction and closures Roads: De Zavala Jones-Maltsberger railroad crossing stimulus funds US 281 widening
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.
Roads: Alamo Regional Mobility Authority superstreet US 281
Workers completed the final intersection on the US 281 superstreet this past weekend. Initial anecdotes on the superstreet’s Facebook page have been favorable, with most people reporting significant improvements in their commute times. However, there are apparently still a few flies in the ointment, including an apparent surge of people now using Encino Rio to avoid having to make the Evans Road turnaround. There have also been some sporadic reports of driver confusion, which is to be expected. And today there were reports that the morning rush hour had longer-than-usual delays, which may either be a fluke, a result of ongoing tweaking, or perhaps a surge of latent demand, i.e. motorists who were taking alternate routes suddenly choosing to go back to 281 to take advantage of the improvements. But the preliminary results look encouraging and, as is always the case with these things, it will take some time for traffic patterns to stabilize as people learn the new configuration and optimize their own routes. Also, engineers will continue tweaking things over the next few weeks. With yesterday being a holiday, today’s evening rush hour and the peak driving periods over the next couple of weeks will really be the key in determining whether the project can be deemed a success, and ARMA plans to do a quantitative before-and-after analysis to objectively determine the effects.
That said, no improvement is ever perfect. There are always trade-offs, and this project is no exception. The folks coming from east of US 281 in the mornings are probably the ones inconvenienced the most by these changes. Hopefully, the benefits for everyone will outweigh any drawbacks. Time will tell.
If you use US 281 regularly, please post a comment about whether the superstreet has helped! I’ll be headed out there this afternoon to see for myself.
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: Alamo Regional Mobility Authority intersection superstreet US 281
After yesterday’s disheartening news about the US 281/Loop 1604 interchange, I have a bit of good news today. Earlier this week, the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) announced that the first intersection in the US 281 super-street project will be completed and open to traffic on Monday morning.