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Friday, December 19

Walnut Hill project to start

Dean Word Company will begin setting up barricades and clearing the right-of-way Monday, December 21, on the Walnut Hill project in New Braunfels.

The $12.7 million project expands Walnut Avenue between Kerlick Lane and Landa Street to a five-lane road with two lanes in each direction and a center-left turn lane. The turn lane will only cover portions of that segment, but the portions involved are significant. Sidewalks and bike lanes will also be added.

We expect to have all the work finished mid-2016.

New Braunfels Utilities have been working hard to get utilities moved out of the way, and have been successful. All publicly owned aerial lines are moved as needed (a few private communication lines owned by the likes of Time Warner Cable or AT&T remain in the way) and crews are working on sewer and water lines. The underground lines will be moved by May.

Typically we don't like to have projects get underway without the utilities moved out of the way. However, because of some federal regulations regarding trees with migratory bird nests, we need to have trees and other potential nesting areas moved out of the way as needed before February 15. Over the next few weeks this removal and project clearing is the work that will be done.

The problem is, beyond the clearing work, we don't have a whole lot of areas in which to work. Clearing work will take about two weeks - maybe a little more - and Dean Word's work will be done. Again, the importance is getting the right-of-way cleared and setting up environmental controls for the work zone. 

Expect daily lane closures that may reduce traffic to one-way mid-day, with a flagger controlling traffic. Hours of closures are limited to between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. These closures will happen all but Thursday (Christmas) and Friday next week and almost every day the week after.

Once that's done, Dean Word will need to wait for some NBU work to be able to move forward with other activities. One such activity is a drain structure near the Wells Fargo building that's posing a particular challenge. Project personnel are discussing a way to get that drain structure built without imposing on the NBU work in the area. NBU work will require major closures, and it doesn't look like our work can move simultaneously.

More on the work on the drain structure will come as details are hammered out.


Work over the week of Christmas

Well, first of all, Chanukuh  sema'ech. To those who observe it, happy Festival of Lights!

It's no secret traffic volumes increase substantially during the week before and after Christmas, particularly over the weekends book-ending the year's biggest holiday.

With that in mind - and knowing how many will be on the road to visit loved ones, check out festively lit neighborhoods or doing some last-minute shopping - we've got a few pointers regarding the road construction activity and closures planned over the next week (and, in a few cases, beyond). Keep in mind, if you would, that we only cover 12 counties in Texas. If you're looking for info elsewhere in the state, try our state-wide highway conditions map.

Anyway, here's what's happening in our district, county by county:

Atascosa: 
We have an active construction project on Texas Hwy 97 between the Atascosa-Wilson county line and Pleasanton. That project has reduced the active travel lanes to a single lane, using one-way traffic control - particularly on the eastern section of the project. This work zone traffic control is long-term and will, indeed, remain in place during the Christmas week. Construction in the area will be limited, however, with crews staying home at most of the next week and portions of the week of New Years.

Bandera:
No major projects will be interrupting traffic over the course of the next two weeks; maintenance crews will continue to work as needed, but will limit closures through the new year.

Bexar:
First of all, we will have no closures of I-10 at Ralph Fair Road through the rest of the year (and, honestly, into the first part of 2015). The project will actually shut down between December 24 and January 1, allowing a full week of unencumbered traffic flow in the Ralph Fair Road area. And, since Sundt Construction returned the I-10 frontage roads immediately west of the Ralph Fair Road intersection to two-way earlier this week, traffic flow should be back to "normal" in the area.

We'll also have some closures on DeZavala Road and the frontage roads of I-10 at the DeZavala intersection overnight Sunday (into Monday morning), but we should otherwise be clear in the area. Keep in mind - and remind those traveling - the westbound exit to UTSA Boulevard is closed. People may use either the DeZavala Road exit and travel the frontage road through the DeZavala intersection, or they may exit at Loop 1604 and turn around to reach UTSA Boulevard.

All major projects will continue operating until December 24, when many will shut down through January 1. Crews working on the Fred-Med project, for instance, will break from the project December 24 through January 4.

Travelers should keep in mind the major project areas: I-35 between George Beach and Windcrest; I-10 between Huebner Rd and Lp 1604; Loop 1604 between Bandera and Culebra roads; Loop 1604 between Graytown Rd and I-10 on the east side of Bexar County; U.S. 281 between Nakoma Drive and Bitters Road; Fredericksburg Road at Medical Drive; Wurzbach Parkway.

Again, we have no planned lane closures for the next week beyond what's included above.

Comal:
Besides the private developer work in the Bulverde area Sunday and Monday, no closures will occur for the next two weeks. We will continue work on FM 306, along I-35 and on U.S. 281 (and elsewhere), but we won't be blocking any lanes. Still, any friends or family visiting from out of town should know about the work zones to be sure they're paying attention when they drive through.

Well, that's the case for the major highways, at least. On Walnut Avenue - the "Walnut Hill" project - we will see some closures related to the ongoing utlities adjustments. Dean Word Construction will also begin clearing the roadway between Kerlick and Landa ... meaning they'll likely have some daytime (and overnight) closures along the roadway. That will occur Monday and Tuesday, but not likely beyond that through the week.

Frio:
Much like in Atascosa County, we've got an active project on FM 1582 between Pearsall and Texas Hwy 85. This project, like the work in Atascosa County, just began - we're about two months or so into work on the project and have some sections of one-way traffic control in place. Work crews may not be on site through the week, as they'll be at home with their own families.

Guadalupe:
No major projects will be interrupting traffic over the course of the next two weeks; maintenance crews will continue to work as needed, but will limit closures through the new year. 


Kendall:
The project on Hwy 46 near Esser Road will be inactive December 23 through January 5. The current traffic configuration will remain through the Christmas holiday, as that is a long-term set-up, but we won't have much in the way of work to interrupt traffic over the next couple of weeks. We will, at the behest of several local residents, keep an eye on the signal timing at Hwy 46 and Esser to make sure we've got traffic flowing in all directions at an optimal pace.

Kerr:
Allen Keller, the contractor expanding Hwy 16 from the north end of Kerrville to the Gillespie County line, will take off between December 23 and January 5 and no work will be done on the project during that time. The work zone will remain set up, but traffic shouldn't expect any abnormal delays.

Work will also slow to a minimum on Hwy 39 through Ingram over the next two weeks, though crews should have the project area cleaned up enough to allow traffic to flow without any major troubles.

Traffic headed through Hunt will find a one-way bridge, however, at the Hunt Crossing bridge. We are expanding the bridge and have it limited to a single lane long-term and won't have it back to two lanes until the project is finished. Temporary signals are in place to keep traffic appropriately moving, but newcomers to the area should be aware.

McMullen:
Though maintenance crews will continue to do their work as normal, we don't have any major construction closures in place. Drivers should be aware of a construction zone along Hwy 97 in the northwest corner of the county. Though work will be minimal over the next two weeks, the construction zone has been set up and drivers should be aware of it.

Medina: 
No major projects will be interrupting traffic over the course of the next two weeks; maintenance crews will continue to work as needed, but will limit closures through the new year.
Uvalde: 
No major projects will be interrupting traffic over the course of the next two weeks; maintenance crews will continue to work as needed, but will limit closures through the new year.

Wilson: 
No major projects will be interrupting traffic over the course of the next two weeks; maintenance crews will continue to work as needed, but will limit closures through the new year.

Final word:
No matter where you'll be driving, the largest hazards to your travels are within the cars themselves. These are hazards you can help us keep off the road. The first is the notion that somehow yet prevails that it's OK to drive drunk. This thought is as ridiculous as it is selfish. And, since this is the season of selflessness, we suggest you give the gift of a sober ride - the best gift of all.

The other thing to be aware of is your cell phone or other electronic devices. Drivers, let your "navigators" do the navigating and keep your own eyes on the road. This holiday season, make a commitment for your loved ones to put your phone away while you're driving - and make it a lasting habit.

Be safe - drive smart!

Wednesday, December 17

Wurzbach Parkway: from Jones-Maltsberger to Wetmore

After a quick visit with our field personnel assigned to the Wurzbach Parkway project between Jones-Maltsberger and Wetmore, we've got an idea of the timeline for work remaining to get that eastern segment open to use.

The $33 million project began late 2010 with Ballenger Construction. By late 2012 Ballenger had filed for bankruptcy and defaulted on the project, leaving the project in the control of its surety company Liberty Mutual. Liberty Mutual hired Texas Sterling Construction early 2013 to finish the work.

Since Texas Sterling has come on we have been working hard to finish the project in a timely fashion. Along they way they've dealt with issues involving some of the work done by Ballenger before. They've reconstructed the center median barriers along the length of the project and reconstructed concrete paving slabs between Jones-Maltsberger and the city's brush dump site.

Now they're dealing with some issues near the Starcrest Drive overpass. Those issues will need to be addressed before the segment can be opened for use.

The work to address the Starcrest issues has already begun and is projected to wrap up this spring if weather and equipment cooperate. That would allow crews to focus on getting the segment opened up, which is now scheduled to happen by mid-2015.

That's nearly a year later than initial projections when Texas Sterling took over the project in 2013. The delays have come largely as Texas Sterling has addressed unknown quality issues involving Ballenger's completed work.

Again, expect to be able to use the eastern segment of Wurzbach Parkway by mid-2015. The final segment, spanning West Avenue to Jones-Maltsberger, will also open mid-2015.

In Bulverde: work scheduled on Hwy 46 at Singing Hills

We were recently given word the contractor developing the Singing Hills site, Middleman Construction, will be doing work on Hwy 46 between U.S. 281 and the Bill Brown Elementary School.

The work will widen highway 46 and adjust some utility lines to accommodate the new development. TxDOT inspectors will ensure the work meets state standards, but the work is being done by a private developer and is not considered TxDOT work.

Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m., Middleman Construction will lay a seal coat on the highway to eliminate existing pavement stripes, then restripe the roadway to create a safe construction zone. Expect alternating lane closures as needed. The closure will continue until the work is finished, which should be by Sunday afternoon.

Monday night (into Tuesday morning) Middleman Construction will reduce Hwy 46 to a single lane, using one-way traffic control, while they set traffic barrier. The work will run from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. and off-duty police officers will direct traffic.

Meanwhile, CRG continues to progress on construction of turnarounds for U.S. 281 at Hwy 46 - which is a TxDOT project. If work moves according to plan the turnarounds will be finished and in use in time for spring break.

Friday, December 12

Next week's construction-related closures

I-10
  • Saturday, December 13. 6:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Westbound main lanes between Roland Avenue and Pine Street (east San Antonio). The left lane will close while crews test the asphalt.
  • Saturday, December 13. 6:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Eastbound main lanes between Roland Avenue and Pine Street (east San Antonio). The right lane will close while crews test the asphalt.
  • Sunday-Friday, December 14-19. 8:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. nightly. Main lanes, each direction, between Huebner Road and UTSA Boulevard (northwest San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close for road work.
  • Sunday-Friday, December 14-19. 8:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. nightly. Frontage road, both directions between Loop 1604 and Huebner Road (northwest San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close for road work.
  • Monday-Friday, December 15-19. 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. Frontage road, both directions, between Loop 1604 and Huebner Road (northwest San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close for road work.
I-35
  • Sunday-Friday, December 14-19. 8:30 p.m. until 6 a.m. nightly. Northbound main lanes between FM 3009 and Solms Road (Schertz-New Braunfels). All lanes will close while crews resurface the roadway. Traffic will exit FM 3009 and re-enter the main lanes after Solms Road.
  • Sunday-Friday, December 14-19. 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. nightly. Southbound main lanes between Solms Road and FM 3009 (Schertz-New Braunfels). Alternating lanes will close while crews place pavement markings.
Hwy 281
  • Saturday, December 13. 4 a.m. until 3 p.m. Southbound frontage road between Bitters Road and Nakoma Drive (north-central San Antonio). All lanes will close while crews pour concrete to form the Wurzbach Parkway overpass bridge. Traffic will enter the southbound main lanes near Bitters and exit again at Nakoma.
  • Saturday-Sunday, December 13-14. Noon until 1 a.m. Northbound frontage road between Nakoma Drive and Bitters Road (north-central San Antonio). All lanes will close while crews set bridge deck panels to form the Wurzbach Parkway overpass. Traffic will use Nakoma Drive, Jones-Maltsberger and Starcrest Drive to reach its destination. 
Other roads
  • Monday, December 15. 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Westbound Wurzbach Parkway between Wetmore and Starcrest (north-central San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close while crews install light poles.
  • Tuesday-Thursday, December 16-18. 9 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. nightly. Highway 46, both directions, between Coughran Road and Main Street, and between Main Street and Herff Ranch Boulevard (Boerne). Alternating lanes of Texas Hwy 46 (River Road) will close between Coughran Road and Main Street and also between Main Street and Herff Ranch Boulevard while crews set barrier and rearrange the work zone.
All closures are pending weather.

Fred-Med: the way moving forward

Now that we've wrapped up the first-ever (in Texas) lateral bridge slide on the Fred-Med project, it's time for a run-down on what to expect and what our project timeline is from here on out.

First, we're on pace to have the project substantially completed within the first eight weeks of the new year - which is in accord with our contracted schedule. That means we're on time with this project and, with a little luck, we may actually wrap up work a few weeks early.

The overwhelming majority of work moving forward is on the Medical Drive through lanes, under Fredericksburg Road. That work is being done behind barrier and won't impact daily traffic. We've also got some concrete work (curbs, sidewalks, barriers...) throughout the project, which may require occasional overnight closures.

When crews are ready to lay base layers of asphalt on the Medical Drive through lanes, we might plan for some minor closures to allow trucks to get into or out of the work zone ... but those closures will be kept at an absolute minimum.

When we're ready to have the through lanes opened up in the next few weeks, we'll be finished with just about everything except the final layer of asphalt.

That final surface is tricky - if the weather is too cold or we rush things, the surface is rough and we end up with a bumpy ride. The project engineer has said he intends to hold off on the final surface until sometime in March. That may mean traffic on the Medical Drive through lanes could be opened up on the roadway subsurface for just a few weeks, allowing traffic to flow sooner rather than later.

By the way, if you're interested in the bridge slide, here's an incredible package of videos.

Thursday, December 11

Ralph Fair Road project: exploring solutions

We've had overwhelming feedback from residents in the area of Ralph Fair Road and I-10, letting us know just how difficult the traffic situation is in the area.

Notable areas of concern:
  • Old Fredericksburg Road at Ralph Fair Road
  • Ralph Fair Road at westbound frontage road
  • Accessing the eastbound frontage road from the Ralph Fair Road bridge
  • Fair Oaks Parkway at I-10
We've got engineers examining each area and have already implemented some solutions for these sticking points. We have a number of additional solutions in the mix. With a handful of potential solutions for each item - including those solutions offered by area residents - to consider. Each are being considered carefully, with a strategic implementation plan developed for each.

That may sound like a drawn-out process, but with engineers meeting daily on the issue, changes are coming almost every day.

The most promising development has been some time-savings discoveries in the field. That means we're looking into options to reduce the overall construction time, which will limit the duration of the current traffic pattern.

Bottom line: we are doing all we can to find real, actual solutions. It won't make traffic run completely smooth during construction, but the solutions we're looking at should help.

*Update 12-12, from the area engineer responsible for the project:


We are working on some revisions and changes to return the frontage roads west of FM 3351 to 2 way as soon as possible.  Best case scenario, we could have this done next week. We will firm up the plan this afternoon. We are going to eliminate most of the total reconstruction plans for the frontage roads west of FM 3351; these frontage roads are in good shape, and we have additional projects coming in the near future that can accomplish that work work if it's needed..Instead we will widen the existing roadway and match the roadway elevations by adding layers of asphalt as needed. Our project engineer had several good and innovative ideas on this to help us get to this point.

Potential overall time savings for this option is unknown at the moment, but this plan should help ease some of the pressure in the area.

Monday, December 8

This week's major closures

With the weekend's closure of I-10 at Ralph Fair Road out of the way - Sundt finished up and had main lanes reopened some 16 hours ahead of schedule - we're on to the big closures set up for this week.

By the way (and pass this around!) we won't see another closure of main lanes on I-10 at Ralph Fair Road until February, or late January at the earliest. Bottom line: you'll have an open road through the Christmas holiday season.

So, on to the major closures. We will continue scheduling overnight closures of northbound I-35 between FM 3009 and Solms Road northeast of San Antonio. With colder temperatures, which prohibit some of the asphalt working we're doing, those closures won't always be used ... but we'll continue to plan them. Drivers should continue to plan on the closures as well.

Here's the biggie, though: overnight closures of the DeZavala Road intersection with I-10 on the northwest side. Webber Construction is ready to start hanging the bridge support beams for the westbound main lanes of I-10 at that location. In order to reduce the impact on traffic in the area - particularly at this point of the busy shopping season - this work will be done overnight only.

Expect closures of the intersection every night this week - that is, Monday night through Thursday night - beginning at 8 p.m. The intersection will reopen in time for the morning rush each day.

Traffic will turn right onto the I-10 frontage road in each direction, turn around at the next intersection, and use the frontage roads to return to the intersection and continue on the way. This is the same detour that's been used multiple times for this closure.

Work on the westbound overpass is a milestone item in the overall I-10 Huebner project, and is on pace to finish spring 2015.

Thursday, December 4

The future of Ralph Fair Road and I-10

Sundt Construction was able to have the Ralph Fair Road overpass reopened to traffic by 1:30 this morning - well in time for the morning traffic rush and a few hours ahead of the promised deadline. Kudos to the hard workers with Sundt for meeting that aggressive deadline.

When they had things opened, though, some confusion abounded. That confusion comes from a couple of sources - partially the morning fog that engulfed the area, and particularly from the lack of understanding of the new configuration of traffic with the bridge reopened. This post is intended to let everyone know what to expect on or around Ralph Fair Road for the next several months - at least until Spring Break.

First, a brief report of what was accomplished with that one-day closure of the bridge: traffic was moved over onto a portion of the new bridge, allowing crews to demolish the old bridge (that's happening this weekend ... more on that in a moment). We were also able to get some temporary asphalt laid down to make smooth transitions for traffic onto and off of the bridge.

Now that we have things in order, here's the tricky part of what traffic will look like for the next few months: traffic on the bridge in either direction will not be able to turn right. While the conversion of the frontage roads to one-way is permanent between Ralph Fair Road and Boerne Stage Road, we've got a temporary conversion of frontage road between Ralph Fair Road and Fair Oaks Parkway (well, a few hundred feet of that span, anyway) in place. Here's a look (I recommend you click on the picture to see an enlarged copy of it):
The traffic configuration, with the one-way frontage road immediately west of Ralph Fair Road, allows an area for construction activities as Sundt builds the remaining sections of the bridge. Once the bridge is in place - or most of the bridge, at least - we'll shift the one-way lanes west of the intersection to work on the driveway side of the frontage roads.

When we're ready for final configuration, we'll go ahead and give the two-way frontage road back. For now, at least.

The long view

This project is one of at least five that will take place between Dominion Drive and Fair Oaks Parkway over the next 4-5 years. We're on pace to finish this project by mid-2015, the initial target date. That means we're almost exactly on pace, which is great news.

The other projects in this area will complete the conversion of frontage roads to one-way, all the way to Fair Oaks Ranch. Early next year work will begin on the conversion of frontage roads between Boerne Stage Road and Dominion Drive. That work, which includes construction of a new eastbound frontage road that will split off from Old Fredericksburg Road through Leon Springs, will take about a year and a half to complete.

We are currently working out plans for the conversion of frontage roads between Ralph Fair Road and Fair Oaks Parkway. We expect that work to begin no later than 2016. In the meantime, we've got a $20 million project to create an overpass at Old Fredericksburg Road, about halfway between Ralph Fair Road and Fair Oaks Parkway. Finally, we've got plans to replace the Fair Oaks Parkway bridge, similar to what we're doing at Ralph Fair Road (we're exploring methods to make that project shorter, though - lessons learned from the current job).

All told, that means this area will experience road construction fairly constantly through at least 2018, and likely until 2019. We know that's rough ... but the area continues to expand with a slew of residential developments going up right now and major retail centers on the immediate horizon.

This weekend

You're likely aware of (and might have called us about) work planned this weekend on I-10. That work is on and will probably impact your weekend travel plans if you're planning on moving through the Ralph Fair Road area.

Beginning Friday at 9 p.m. we will close all main lanes on I-10 at Ralph Fair Road. Traffic will exit Ralph Fair Road and re-enter the highway immediately after the intersection. Sundt will have the highway reopened by Monday at 5 a.m. Expect the highway to be closed through the whole weekend.

In order to provide a constant flow of traffic at the intersections and move I-10 traffic along, we will also close Ralph Fair Road between Old Fredericksburg Road and I-10. Traffic on Ralph Fair Road will use Old Fredericksburg Road to reach Boerne Stage Road or Fair Oaks Parkway.

Local business traffic need only indicate to officers an intention to reach a specific business at the intersection of I-10 and Ralph Fair Road to reach its destination.

The closure will allow Sundt to demolish the old bridge, making room for the new bridge. Over the next several weeks crews will be working on the bridge support structures, and by February should be ready to set bridge support beams. Those beams will require another closure, meaning folks should expect the next major closure in about 8 weeks (if everything goes right).

Tuesday, December 2

This week's construction-related closures

I-10
  • Sunday-Friday, November 30-December 5. 8:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. nightly. Main lanes, each direction, between Huebner Road and UTSA Boulevard (northwest San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close for road work.
  • Sunday-Friday, November 30-December 5. 8:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. nightly. Frontage road, both directions between Loop 1604 and Huebner Road (northwest San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close for road work.
  • Monday-Friday, December 1-5. 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. Frontage road, both directions, between Loop 1604 and Huebner Road (northwest San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close for road work.
  • Tuesday-Wednesday, December 2-3. 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. Westbound main lanes between Roland Avenue and Pine Street (east San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close while crews restripe the roadway and shift traffic.
  • Wednesday-Thursday, December 3-4. 9 a.m. until 5 a.m. continuous. Frontage roads, both directions, at Ralph Fair Road (Leon Springs). Alternating lanes will close for work on the Ralph Fair Road overpass bridge. Traffic will have one lane open at all times.
  • Thursday-Friday, December 4-5. 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. Westbound main lanes between Roland Avenue and Pine Street (east San Antonio). Alternating lanes will close while crews move barrier.
  • Friday-Monday, December 5-8. 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. continuous. Main lanes, both directions, at Ralph Fair Road (Leon Springs). All lanes will close while crews demolish the old Ralph Fair Road overpass. Traffic will exit Ralph Fair Road, pass through the intersection and re-enter the highway.

I-35

  • Sunday-Friday, November 30-December 5. 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. nightly. Southbound main lanes between FM 3009 and Solms Road (Schertz-New Braunfels). Alternating lanes will close while crews make pavement markings.
  • Sunday-Friday, November 30-December 5. 8:30 pm. until 5:30 a.m. nightly. Northbound main lanes between FM 3009 and Solms Road (Schertz-New Braunfels). All lanes will close while crews resurface the roadway. 

U.S. 281

  • Monday-Friday, December 1-5. 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Southbound main lanes between Bitters Road and Nakoma Drive (north-central San Antonio). All lanes will close while crews do bridge work on the Wurzbach Parkway overpass. Traffic will exit Bitters Road and re-enter the road after Nakoma Drive.
  • Wednesday-Saturday, December 3-6. 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. nightly. Northbound main lanes between Nakoma Drive and Bitters Road (north-central San Antonio). All lanes will close while crews do bridge work on the Wurzbach Parkway overpass. Traffic will exit Nakoma, pass through the Nakoma Drive and Bitters Road intersections, then re-enter the highway.
  • Saturday, December 6. 5 a.m. until 3 p.m. Southbound frontage road between Bitters Road and Nakoma Drive (north-central San Antonio). All lanes will close while crews pour the Wurzbach Parkway overpass bridge deck. Traffic will enter the main lanes and re-exit before Nakoma Drive.
  • Saturday-Monday, December 6-8. 6 a.m. until 5 a.m. continuous. Northbound frontage road between Nakoma Drive and Bitters Road (north-central San Antonio). The two right lanes will close while crews install drain inlets.
Loop 1604
  • Wednesday, December 4. 9 a.m. Main lanes, both directions, between I-10 and Lower Seguin Road (east Bexar County). Alternating lanes will close while crews restripe the road to shift traffic.
Other Roads

  • Wednesday-Thursday, December 3-4. 9 a.m. until 5 a.m. continuous. Ralph Fair Road at I-10 (Leon Springs). All lanes will close while crews switch traffic on the Ralph Fair Road overpass bridge. Traffic will be detoured to Fair Oaks Parkway and to Boerne Stage Road to cross I-10.
  • Friday-Monday, December 5-8. 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. continuous. Ralph Fair Road between Old Fredericksburg Road and I-10 (Leon Springs). All lanes will close while crews demolish the old Ralph Fair Road overpass. This closure is intended to facilitate the heavy traffic on the I-10 frontage roads. Traffic will use Old Fredericksburg Road to reach I-10 at Boerne Stage Road or at Fair Oaks Parkway.

All closures are pending weather.

Comal County roundup

One of the adverse effects of holiday-shortened months and having a lot going on elsewhere is an utter lack of updates on project in outlying areas. In this case, the several major projects in Comal County - particularly around New Braunfels - have been moving right along and we need to tell you about it.

FM 306

Last week, just before Thanksgiving, Hunter Industries set bridge support beams over the railroad crossing near Hunter Road to form the backbone for the eastbound bridge, then reworked the intersection at Hunter Road.

While this meant a minor traffic nuisance for the two days crews were out there, it marks another major step toward getting finished with the project overall. Hunter's plan is to have the Hunter Road crossing finished first, though crews will continue working on the overpass at Goodwin as well. Once the overpass near Hunter Road is finished focus will shift to the Goodwin overpass.

The hope is to have the overpass near Hunter Road finished and in use around the New Year, and to have the overpass near Goodwin Lane finished near the end of the school year. Overall project completion is scheduled before the end of the school year.

Loop 337

Another Hunter Industries project, we're falling victim to weather right now. If Hunter Industries had their way, we'd be finished with everything by now ... but cold temperatures and wet weather (much-needed wet weather!) has dampened our ability to lay asphalt and paint the roadway.

Crews were scheduled to do the last bit of asphalt and all the roadway striping last week, but weather pushed that work back. As soon as we get a stretch of weather that's warm enough and dry enough to finish things out, we'll do that.

Again, we were hoping to have the project finished by now (even though we have until January to finish up), and we're trying to have the work done very soon.

I-35 ramps

The project to reverse the entrance and exit ramps between Conrads-Kohlenberg and FM 306 is underway, with Dan Williams Company working already to construct the new northbound ramps. The overall plan is to develop the northbound side first, then move over to the southbound side. Each side should take about six months.

This project is one of our top generators of emails right now - there are several who seem concerned about the length of the northbound entrance ramp from FM 306. The barricade set up in the shoulder area has taken away the shoulder, which was being improperly used by traffic as a defacto acceleration lane.

Here's the thing: entrance ramps are actually designed so that traffic can get to appropriate highway speeds before reaching the lanes of the highway. Ramps are designed to help accelerate - they are acceleration lanes, in and of themselves. 

But that's not how they're being treated. 

At any rate, folks believe a safety hazard exists so we have our engineers digging through options. We've got four options being examined, and we hope to have settled on one of those four by the end of the week.

Walnut Avenue

Right now the work on Walnut Avenue, between Kerlick and Landa, is being done by NBU and is all utilities work. NBU reported this morning they are on schedule to finish their work by the start of summer. TxDOT work will begin early 2015.

FM 1101

Right now this one is all utilities. Specifically, a certain telephone company has lines in the way and we're waiting for them to move out of the way. Hopefully those lines may be moved before we get started (early 2015) so we don't encounter any delays.

US 281 turnarounds

Nearly a year ago we gave the go-ahead to CRG to begin constructing turnarounds on U.S. 281 at Hwy 46. Almost immediately after setting up the work area, CRG realized they wouldn't be able to construct the project the way they had bid it. They halted work and began acquiring the resources (including equipment and personnel) to construct the project the way we designed it.

That process was lengthy ... and CRG went back to work just this fall. As of the end of November they've finished about half the work scheduled for the project, and they are on target to finish the work before the end of the school year.

As for the delays, those are being appropriately handled between the contractor and our area office.

Monday, December 1

I-35 near SAMMC - traffic shifts and lighting issues

Last month Lane Construction shifted the southbound lanes of I-35 near Rittiman Road to the right about 40-60 feet, creating some room to work in the center median area. Let's talk about that for a few minutes, and see what - exactly - that really means for folks.

With traffic shifted to the right, Lane can build what will be the southbound main lanes of I-35 - three lanes that will hug the northbound lanes until they pass under the new connector ramp to southbound I-410. The lanes traffic are driving on will eventually roll into the new direct connector, but for now they'll be used to access the existing ramp.

Work on the new southbound main lanes should take Lane only a few weeks to complete, and if everything goes well enough (including weather) they hope to shift traffic back to the left - onto the permanent main lanes - to allow work on the tie-in for the new direct connector.

The switch planned for next month also means traffic on southbound I-35 exiting to southbound I-410 will use the right side - permanently - as the road currently in use will serve as exit lanes to southbound I-410.

Is that about clear as mud? Perhaps a brief video will help with visualization:



Overall, the concentration of work is between George Beach and Rittiman Road - Lane is pushing to have the new direct connector, along with all the other ramp adjustments, finished and in play at this area by the end of 2015. Meanwhile, work continues in the Crestway-Thousand Oaks area at the north end of the project.

That leads us to another issue. Recently some have questioned the lack of lighting along the I-35 corridor between Randolph Boulevard and Rittiman Road.

At the end of summer - about three months ago - a string of center median lights between Randolph and Rittiman were cut by Lane Construction to construct some of the retaining walls for the widened highway. This includes the lights that normally shine on the large, green, reflective overhead highway signs in the area. The conduit needs to be moved, and that will take place as soon as the wall is finished.

In the meantime, as a response to the public inquiries, we're looking at pricing for some temporary lighting solutions - something we wouldn't ordinarily do for a section of road like this. Highway lighting along the median is actually not considered safety lighting, which is why you don't see constant strings of light fixtures along the 900-plus miles of I-10 in Texas or the 500-plus miles of I-35 in Texas. Highway signs are designed to reflect light that is cast on them directly, giving them maximum visibility when your headlights hit them.

For the record, we've actually seen a decrease in crashes on this segment of I-35 since the lights were cut off: Crash data collected by local law enforcement shows that in  August-October of this year, we've had a 1.04  percent drop in wrecks over the same period of 2013. Sure, a 1 percent drop isn't huge ... but it's still a drop in crashes. By the way, since construction began in November 2013 crashes overall are trending downward. What's more, the crashes are becoming less severe: in August-October this year, 73 percent of crashes were non-injury; in that same time period last year just 70 percent were non-injury wrecks.

At any rate, we hope that sets the record straight a little.

I-10 at Ralph Fair Road: two MAJOR closures this week

Two weeks ago, Sundt Construction had three plans - Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

We're now working Plan D, which accelerates the work and condenses closures so that the havoc will be felt through this week:

Wednesday-Thursday (Dec. 3-4)

At 9 a.m. Wednesday crews will close the Ralph Fair Road overpass to switch traffic off the old bridge and onto new lanes built over the last few months. The bridge will remain closed through the Wednesday evening rush hour, but Sundt will have the new lanes open for use in time for the Thursday morning commute.
During the bridge closure traffic will cross I-10 at Fair Oaks Parkway or at Boerne Stage Road, where officers will be positioned to help ease the flow of traffic. The frontage roads near the intersection will be limited to a single lane. Those who work and live in the area should prepare for delays.


Friday-Monday (Dec. 5-8)

Friday at 9 p.m. crews will close all lanes of I-10 at Ralph Fair Road, as well as the Ralph Fair Road overpass bridge, to allow for the safe demolition of the old bridge. Traffic at Ralph Fair Road in each direction and pass through the intersection, then re-enter the highway. Officers will be posted at the intersections of Ralph Fair Road and I-10 to keep traffic flowing.

Traffic on Ralph Fair Road will use Old Fredericksburg Road to reach Fair Oaks Parkway or Boerne Stage Road. This is the same closure and detour that has been employed at this location twice already.

Traffic will be returned to normal in time for Monday’s morning commute. Please note: we know the last two times we finished up early - even finishing by the end of Saturday. Do not expect an early finish this go-round. The work required will take all weekend to accomplish. More on that in a moment.

Why we're going with this plan

The fact is we've reached a point in the project that, without the traffic switch and the demolition of the old bridge, Sundt can't really do much work. Weather thwarted our plans in November to reach these stages, and we know we could run the risk of weather in December as well. Because of our desire to avoid high-traffic weekends later this month, we simply couldn't afford to plan the work over weekends only and run the risk of a rain-out. That scenario could have effectively shut our project down most of the month of December (or, worse, all of it).

So ... we're under a time crunch. We need to get the work done. So we're pushing to get it all done this week, with the traffic switch being done mid-week and the major work over this weekend.

The weekend's work

Demolition of the bridge deck will follow a lengthy process. Again, do not expect an early completion of the weekend work. Plan on us being out there Friday night until Monday morning.

Friday night, once we have the main lanes shut down, we'll haul in dirt and sand to create a soft bed under the existing bridge deck. This is designed to soften the landing for the concrete that will fall from the old bridge, protecting the asphalt on the main lanes.

With the bed of sand and dirt in place demolition crews will begin cutting and breaking apart the old bridge. This includes the bridge support columns in the highway median. While some of the cleanup will happen as we go, the major clean-up operation will be the last bit of work to finish up (and typically takes the longest to complete).

With this weekend's planned work finished, no more major closures will be needed in 2014. This plan is, of course, dependent on weather.
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