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Monday, May 18

Mail bag: I-10 Leon Springs, Wurzbach Parkway and much more.

In the last week, we've gotten a number of questions in the mail bag. Thanks for the questions and for your involvement! This blog is for you; please keep letting us know what kind of questions you'd like us to answer and we'll get the best info we can for you. Here are the answers you've sought this week:

What is the latest status on Wurzbach Parkway? Do you finally have a timeline to connect the east side with 281? The west side with 281? All? Will the lights on NW Military be removed or are they here to stay (that is fine too, just wanted to know)? Thank you!
- Gonzalo

So many questions at once! We'll try to answer appropriately.
The final segment of Wurzbach Parkway, connecting West Avenue to Jones-Maltsberger, will be finished in a single piece. The remaining contract time shows this project finishing near the end of this year, but Williams Brothers is running ahead of schedule. The reason we don't have an exact timeline beyond "this summer" is because the actual promised delivery is late 2015.
That aside, we are still anticipating opening the parkway - including exit ramps to U.S. 281 - later this summer. Weather, obviously, can impact this, but the contractor is motivated to get this work finished so crews can be moved to other projects.
As for the lights at NW Military and Wurzbach Parkway, we do not currently have plans to build over or around them. That might come in the future at some point - that all depends on folks who participate in the public input process through the Alamo Area MPO as it seeks to prioritize transportation projects (that could include you!). For now, it's not on our radar.

When will the turn north to south turn around south of Nakoma be reopened?I thought I read that it would be closed for 6 months but it has been more like 1 1/2 years. Most days there has been no work done from the day before. 
- Tom

That's a great question, Tom. You're right - the original plan was to have that turnaround closed just six months while the new northbound exit ramp to Wurzbach Parkway was constructed.
In the process, though, Williams Brothers ran into some issues with the electrical connections and the TransGuide lines. Those issues were all engineering and placement focused - and the segment of the turnaround to be rebuilt had already been demolished when these issues were discovered. In fact, it was through the demolition we found them.
In the meantime other portions of the project needed to progress, so crews kept working. We are working on the exit ramp, as well as other features along the northbound frontage road. While it may not seem like actual work is happening at that location a lot of work that needs to occur north of Nakoma in order for the work at Nakoma to be finished is happening every day. Well, every day we don't have monsoon-like rains.
Additionally, the project needed to wait for the right crews to finish the turnaround work. The same crew that digs ditches doesn't do the work on concrete for a bridge. That'd be like asking a finance clerk to handle marketing for a major corporation; both are incredibly qualified at their jobs, but not at each others. With the construction of the new south-to-north turnaround ramping up, expect to see those crews working on what's left of the north-to-south turnaround.
Also, expect to see more activity finishing the new northbound exit to Wurzbach Parkway (located about where the Bitters Road exit is now). That new exit should be active in a few short weeks.
All in all - and the real, bottom-line answer you're looking for - is we'll have that turnaround working again early summer. 

What is up with all of the construction on Babcock, specifically near the Huebner/Wurzbach area?  It seems like the construction has been going on for forever.  By the way, love the blog. I'm glad there is something that lets everyone know what is going on in the city. 
- Chris

Great question! Babcock Road is a city road, and the projects to which you're referring are maintained by the city of San Antonio. Looking at the city's capital projects widget, it looks like the work at the intersection of Hamilton Wolfe and Babcock ("Imp. Ph IX") should be wrapping up in the next few weeks. For other areas along Babcock, reach out to the city's Transportation and Capital Improvements department.
Thanks for keeping up with the blog, Chris - we'll do what we can to keep you up to speed on TxDOT projects throughout the area!

What is the completion date for the work on U.S. 281 at Hwy 46? It seems like it's been going on forever.
- Michael

This project will build turnarounds on U.S. 281 at Hwy 46 in Bulverde. CRG, the contractor on the project, initially approached us with a proposal to build the retaining walls (the bulk of the work on the project) in a different way than we had designed.
Because they couldn't show us an adequate cost savings (or an improvement in quality), we declined this proposal.
CRG has subcontracted some of the work (they weren't fully equipped to construct the walls as planned), but they're moving a lot slower than we'd like. Some of that is due to weather (seriously, this is the wettest winter/spring we've had in like five or six years) but weather can't be blamed for everything. We're holding their feet to the fire with all the avenues available - all of which involve money. As long as the contractor is prosecuting the contract (even if it's slow) we can't just default them and move on.

I was wondering if you could open up the lane that is blocked off at the corner of Old Fredericksburg and Ralph Fair (on corner there is a dirt mound). It seems that there isn't construction that is to be done on  the turn lane as you are headed toward I-10 on Ralph Fair and turning right (west) onto Old Fredericksburg Rd. Can you open up that turn lane for the time being for all those that live in the subdivisions along Old Fred Rd.? 
- Robin

After pinging the project engineer on that project, it seems we still need to complete a driveway and widening in that area - which will likely be the focus of work once the bridge is complete and opened to full capacity in a couple of weeks. We would already have that intersection opened up if we were completed
For the record, a right turn lane onto Old Fred Rd is not in the plans for this project. Once the road creeps east/north of Old Fred, it transitions from a two-lane road to a four-lane road to match the new bridge. You'll still be turning onto Old Fred from an active lane, just like you are today.

Can you expand on the I-10 Leon Springs project just a bit? Primarily concerning the traffic signal plan at the new off ramp onto Boerne Stage Road? My understanding, by looking at the plans, is that there will be a traffic signal at the off-ramp, another one at Boerne Stage Road and yet another at the HEB entrance. Will there really be three stop lights in that short distance? If so, how will this keep traffic congestion from getting worse in that area? 
- Beau

You bet! There's a good bunch of information online already right here. As for the signals - yes, we are building a new signalized intersection at Boerne Stage Road with the new westbound frontage road that's running through the old park-and-ride location at Leon Springs. That would mean you've got a signal right there by Rudy's, the new intersection we're now constructing, the intersection with the eastbound frontage road and the new signal at HEB.
Excessive? Perhaps. But growth is continuous in the area, and we're trying to do our best to keep folks safe.
We don't really have much say about the signals along Boerne Stage Road - that's all the city and the county. We can't not build a signal at the intersection of Boerne Stage and the new frontage road, though.
The good news is those signals are all "smart" - they talk to one another and operate on a detection system. That system, called a VIVD system, helps stream cars through these intersections - even if there are several intersections to work through.

The proposed managed lanes extend such a short distance, would it really be cost-beneficial? What are the benefits?
- Regina

Regina, this would be an amazing question to ask the folks at tomorrow night's open house - all the experts will be on hand to discuss the issue in-depth.
Truthfully, this blog isn't the right format to delve into all the issues surrounding the question. There are a few basics, though, and folks should understand those. The real issue here is funding, and the lack of available funds through the means currently given to the state. Building highways is extremely expensive (a single interchange, done in full, can cost nearly a billion dollars in most instances!), and in order to get some projects built state and local officials are getting increasingly creative with funding options.
That's part of what you'll talk about tomorrow night.
Anyone with questions like Regina's, or any questions at all about how managed lanes work, should simply attend the public meeting. It runs from 5 until 7 and is in an open house format - no formal presentations here - at the Leon Springs Baptist Church. That's the absolute level-best way to get answers on this topic, and get them fast.

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