19 Nov 2009, 12:30pm
Toll roads:

Comments Off on I’ve got an idea: just build overpasses!

I’ve got an idea: just build overpasses!

Overpasses on I-10 at Medical

(Note: Significant edits were made to this posting at about 5:25pm on 11/19/09.  The edits consisted of polishing the wording; the gist of the information was not changed.)

Several recent letters to the editor in the San Antonio Express-News have presented what their writers obviously consider to be an epiphany to solving the problems on US 281 North: just build some overpasses!

Wow, what a great idea!!!¬† Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before??

Well, they have.

TxDOT’s “original” plan, announced in 2001, would have built a freeway consisting of six to eight controlled-acess¬†main lanes with overpasses at Redland, Evans, and Stone Oak and four to six lanes of frontage roads.¬†¬†It also included a¬†standalone overpass at Borgfeld that would eventually be melded into a future northward extension of the freeway from Stone Oak.¬† This is the plan that toll opponents generally¬†refer to as the “overpass plan” (although that’s a misleading oversimplification, but I’ll embrace it here to make my point.)

In 2003, at the direction of the Texas Transportation Commission and¬†as a result of¬†declining funding availability, the plan was converted to a toll plan.¬† With the exception of¬†some minor improvements, the 2005 toll plan is¬†the same plan as the ultimate 2001 tax plan.¬† Specifically, the 2005 toll plan had six to eight controlled-acess¬†main lanes with overpasses at Redland, Evans,¬†Stone Oak,¬†Marshall, Summer Glen, Bulverde, and Borgfeld,¬†all bracketed by¬†four to six lanes of frontage roads.¬† And later versions of the toll plan are virtually the same as the 2005 plan.¬† (See comparisons of the plans here; see the video simulation of the 2005 plan here.)¬† By their own admission, toll opponents¬†purportedly used¬†the 2005 toll plan as the basis for the non-toll proposal that¬†fell flat¬†at the recent MPO meeting, which demonstrates that the physical roadways¬†planned under the toll plan are a solution endorsed by toll opponents.¬† (Cue the “Hallelujah” music here.)¬† What some of the fringe toll opponents still don’t¬†quite comprehend is¬†that the only real difference between the toll plan and the tax plan is what mechanism would be used to pay for it and how fast the whole corridor would be built-out.¬† Both plans include overpasses, which means that everyone already agrees that “overpasses” are the preferred solution for 281’s woes.

So whenever someone says that the solution to the problems on 281 North (or 1604 West for that matter) is to just build overpasses, I have a one word reply:



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