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Wednesday, April 15

Back-ups in Boerne: the work on Hwy 46

More than a few folks in the Boerne area have reached out to us concerning the intersection of Hwy 46 and Esser/Herff Road, a major intersection between Boerne and Champion high schools on the city's west end.

Before much more is said, it's important to remember that at this location there are two active construction projects. One is a Kendall County project to widen and improve the Herff Road bridge over Cibolo Creek. That project is not affiliated with TxDOT and folks should be aware there are activities related to that project that may impact traffic along Hwy 46.

The other job is our project; the aim is what engineers like to call "operational improvements" to the intersections. We're trying to do what we can to address the congestion that's come and that is coming with the explosive growth of Kendall County just east of Boerne. We know there are more than 5,000 homes scheduled to be built in this area over the next 2-3 years, and we're doing what we can with the resources we have. This project spans Hwy 46 (River Road) from the intersection of Esser Road to the intersection of Herff Ranch Road.

Most of the issue, it seems, comes during morning and evening peak commute times (which just happen to coincide with school starting and letting out...) at the intersection of Esser and Hwy 46. Because we're aware of delays during these hours getting pretty rough - reports indicate folks are spending between 20 and 45 minutes in those back-ups - we want to be sure folks know what's happening to help the situation.

First of all, we do have officers on site during peak hours to control traffic. We coordinate this with the Boerne Police Department, who has determined the safest and easiest way to go about this is to have officers control traffic through the signal control box, a large metal box off to the side of the intersection. This may mean it doesn't look like much is being done - the police officer on site isn't in the middle of the road directing traffic, but remains behind the control box. The signals, though, are being manually controlled at that point, like in the good old days. This is done for safety and to avoid confusion if the officer were to give a hand signal that contradicted what the light was independently doing.
An officer, wearing a green safety vest, controls the traffic signal at Hwy 46 and Esser Road this afternoon (15 April).

We have officers on site Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. and again 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.

As for work schedule, we are on pace to have our work completed by the end of August - that means we'll be working through the summer and have this wrapped up by time we're ready for the next school year.

In the meantime, crews are working hard to get the westbound right-turn lane at Esser Road back in action as soon as possible. That will help the issues at this intersection - and beyond. With that turn lane, the city wants to post Esser and Blanco roads as an alternate route to River Road to reach Main Street.

We also know an extended left-turn lane at the intersection will help. That's in line with the purpose of this project, and we hope to have it open and available in the next couple of months.

Some have asked why we don't focus on a viable alternate route to divert traffic away from Hwy 46 (River Road). The trouble with that is the amount of time and planning and resources required; it's cumbersome. It's actually a little simpler to have the city or county conduct such a project, but before they could do so a viable route would need to be identified that includes a string of property owners willing to sell land for use as a thoroughfare.

For now, we're doing what we can along Hwy 46.