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.  Right now, there are two westbound lanes: one is a left-only lane onto southbound Loop 1604, and the other is a through lane for Braun, which itself is now four lanes west of Loop 1604.  The problem is that during peak periods, traffic wanting to turn right onto northbound 1604 backs-up quite a way along Braun inside 1604, essentially blocking that right lane.  Folks who want to go through on westbound Braun then either have to wait in that line of mostly right-turning traffic, or they can go around in the left lane.  However, that left lane then becomes the left-only lane, so those folks wanting to go straight on Braun then have to shunt over to the right lane, which often causes conflicts with the people who waited in the right lane and unnecessarily disrupts traffic in the left-turn lane.  Additionally, vehicles turning left onto westbound Braun from northbound 1604 during peak periods (especially the school buses heading to the Leslie Rd. bus barn and the gravel trucks going to the nearby quarry) oftentime fill all of the available storage space, thus causing further delays for Braun through traffic.

To rectify this, the additional pavement available on the north side of Braun¬†in the middle of 1604¬†will be made into a second through lane for westbound Braun traffic.¬† To safely¬†accommodate that, a big chunk of the “pork-chop” island on the west side of the intersection will¬†be removed and the area repaved, and an additional traffic signal head added (that’s actually already been done.)¬† See the diagram above to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.¬† There will also be some lane reconfigurations, although I haven’t seen the final plans for those yet.¬† However, I fully expect that the right lane¬†from inside 1604 will be guided into the new right lane going through the 1604 intersections, and the left lane will then have the option of either entering the left-only lane or the center (existing)¬†through lane.

These improvements are being done as the first phase of a package of improvements for Loop 1604 West over the next year¬†that will include “super-street” intersections at New Gilbeau and Shaenfield and improvements at SH 151.¬† TxDOT is paying for the Braun Rd. intersection improvements and is doing the work themselves.

 

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