19 Feb 2017, 9:04am
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Not gonna use the HOV lane? It still benefits you!

HOV-sign

TxDOT is preparing to build San Antonio’s first two high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-10 West and US  281 North. Construction of both is scheduled to start this year.

One comment I frequently hear about HOV lanes is from people saying they won’t use them, so they won’t benefit from them.  A corollary of that is that people who won’t use them don’t think their tax money should be spent on them.  As is often the case, both of these viewpoints fail to see the bigger picture.

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19 Mar 2014, 4:47pm
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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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19 Mar 2014, 1:07pm
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What’s going on at I-10 and DeZavala?

If you’ve traversed I-10 at DeZavala recently, you may have noticed that the center divider is being removed.  Many folks have noticed and I’ve gotten the question more than once asking why.  A few have even asserted that they’re ripping out brand new barrier that was just re-built recently.

First off, the barrier that’s being removed is not new.  Yes, there have been several sections of barrier that were re-built in that same project area recently, but all of that was south of the Fredericksburg/Woodstone area.  You can tell the new barrier because it’s still the raw, dark gray color.  The old barrier is tan, and that’s what’s being removed at DeZavala.

Now to answer the “why”.  I-10 is being widened in that area, and consequently the DeZavala overpass needs to be widened to carry those additional lanes.  But it turns-out that the overpass also needs to raised a few feet in the process.  This means that they’ll have to tear-down the old overpass.  In order to do that, traffic will need to be shifted from one side of the overpass to the other while half of the bridge is demolished and re-built.  Therefore, the divider is being removed to allow for that traffic switch as well as the fact that it will need to be removed anyway since the bridge it sits on is being replaced.

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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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.

Loop 410 is done!

Ribbon cutting for Loop 410 expansion

Ribbon-cutting for Loop 410 expansion

For the past 30 years, San Antonians have complained about construction along Loop 410.  But no more.  As Mayor Julian Castro said during today’s Loop 410 ribbon-cutting ceremony, “the headaches are over!”

The last leg of the nearly $1 billion “410 for SA” project to improve Loop 410 across the northside of San Antonio is just about done with just a few final “punch list” items remaining, so TxDOT and other local officials– including the Mayor, County Judge Nelson Wolff, VIA boss Keith Parker, and city councilman John Clamp– took the opportunity today to celebrate the culmination of 30 years of work that widened Loop 410 from six to 10 lanes from Perrin-Beitel to Culebra and built new interchanges at US 281, San Pedro, I-10, and Bandera Rd.  All of these improvements have helped get Loop 410 “ahead of the curve” with regards to traffic and has significantly cut congestion and delays throughout the corridor.  And the completion comes just in time: 2009 traffic counts show that Loop 410 has regained its position as the busiest highway in San Antonio with an average of 215,000 vehicles per day between I-10 and US 281.

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Medical/Babcock plans

Click the image above for a full-size, annoted diagram

Click the image above for a full-sized, annotated diagram

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, work is scheduled to start soon on the Medical/Babcock intersection in the Medical Center.  I got a copy of the plans and most of the changes mirror those at the other Med Center intersection upgrades: new signals and signage, dedicated right turn bays on all four corners, and improved pavement.  A couple of other improvements are also planned:

  • Long, dual left turn lanes from southbound Babcock onto Medical.  This will facilitate the morning commute and help reduce the backups on Babcock that sometimes extend nearly to Hamilton Wolfe.
  • Dual left turn lanes from westbound Medical to southbound Babcock.

To facilitate the new long left turn lanes on southbound Babcock, left turns to and from Lamb Road will now be prohibited.  I know a lot of people use that to get to/from Oakdell Way– those folks will now either have to use Medical and come back around from the west or use Roanoke Run or Hamilton Wolfe to the north.  I was actually a little surprised that the plan did not completely close the Lamb Road intersection with Babcock and instead realign Oakdell Way through the empty lots there to meet Babcock at a new intersection about 150 yards or so to the north. 

Another small surprise was that the wide median on Medical on the west side of Babcock wasn’t narrowed, maybe for a dedicated left turn lane.  I often see people coming from that direction turning left onto Babcock interfere with oncoming traffic going straight or turning right and I’m convinced that the wide median there is part of the problem.  Reconfiguring that median or changing the signals to a split-phase would resolve that.

Thanks to the folks at the South Texas Medical Center Alliance, Project Control, and Pape-Dawson Engineering for making the plans available to me.

Blanco Road done! (well, almost); Babcock/Medical on deck

Somewhere on the new section of Blanco

Somewhere on the new section of Blanco

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.

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.

Loop 1604/Braun update

Future new westbound lane

Future new westbound lane

A couple of weeks ago, TxDOT completed the restriping of Loop 1604 to three lanes in each direction at Braun Rd.  This seemingly minor change has had a fairly dramatic effect on traffic.  From my own observations, typical peak period traffic jams in both directions have been significantly reduced.  For instance, southbound traffic used to back-up nearly to Bandera Road during the evening rush hour, a distance of a mile or so.  But now it typically backs-up only half of that distance or even less.  I’ll be interested to see how it looks when school gets back into session, but for now, the improvement seems to have eased things quite a bit.  If you drive through this area regularly, post a comment and let me know your observations.

TxDOT is also planning at least one other improvement at that intersection, that being an additional lane on westbound Braun.  more »

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