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Wednesday, May 7

The signals at Boerne Stage Road....

It's not often we get inundated with phone calls or emails about one particular project, but that has been the case with the bridge expansion and frontage road conversion work at Ralph Fair Road, which has impacted (rather significantly) the traffic volumes at the intersection of Boerne Stage Road.

The complaint we're hearing is pretty uniform: the wait at the traffic signal at Boerne Stage Road (BSR) is simply way too long, and we're asked to either (1) adjust the timing of the signals or (2) return the frontage roads to two-way to allow traffic from Autumn Stage Road (ASR) to reach eastbound I-10 without moving through the Boerne Stage Road intersection.

The requests seem pretty common-sense on their face, but there are some significant issues. With that in mind, here is as complete an explanation as we can provide about what is happening:

First of all, the issue with the backup at BSR is not about signal timing, it's about capacity of the roadway and traffic volumes. The fact of the matter is there are just way more cars than a single lane can handle efficiently, especially through a signalized intersection. Increasing the time allotted for traffic coming from ASR and Ralph Fair Road (RFR) would only further impact traffic on BSR, which is already backed up pretty badly.

Initially the plan was to have two eastbound lanes moving through the signal and on to the eastbound entrance ramp to the main lanes. That would effectively cut the wait time many folks have experienced in half, and possibly eliminate a number of the issues we're having.

Unfortunately, the Bexar County project on Boerne Stage Road is preventing us from the two-lane flow. We're keeping the small segment between BSR and ASR a two-way road as a potential detour route should BSR be closed west of I-10. We've been advised by the county some major closures are ahead on that project, and we're doing our best to assist where we can.
Though the work zone is pretty large compared to the area, the real trouble spot - marked in red here - is caused by heavy traffic volumes. That issue will take care of itself when the segment of I-10 frontage road between Autumn Stage and Boerne Stage roads is converted to one-way, doubling the capacity of the road and the number of cars pushing through the intersection with each green light....
So why did we even start this project while the county's project is ongoing? The truth is we coordinated with the county to make sure our project started after the county's job finished up. We even delayed our start a few months to provide a buffer in the schedules. For whatever reason, however, that didn't work out. We couldn't delay our project any further without a risk of the funding for the project being reallocated ... so here we are today.

So why not just return the frontage road to two-way? Because the first phases of work done on the RFR bridge require us taking up that left eastbound lane (or the old westbound lane) near the bridge, and a two-way road would require constant one-way traffic control (with flaggers and officers) for the next 6-8 months. The expenses are simply overwhelming to do something like that, so it's way simpler to just convert the frontage roads now.

Besides, one of the overarching goals we've got right now is to convert the frontage roads of I-10 between Dominion Drive and RFR to one-way. This is a step in that direction. The remaining stretch of frontage road will be converted next year as we get moving on the BSR-Dominion segment of work.

So ... what's the solution? First, to move forward with the projects in the area as quickly as possible. Those who live or drive through the area may seek alternate routes, if they're available. And, ultimately, some patience. The good news is our project is only a year-and-a-half project, so we will be done by mid-2015.