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Monday, June 8

Mail Bag: Loop 1604 NW, How to Use the Blog, I-10 and more

What happens to the light poles on the center median that are taken down before construction? Where are they taken?
- Josie

Great question, Josie. And we've got a pretty simple answer, too. The short version is the fate of these older light poles greatly depends on the nature of the work and contract we have with the contractor. In some cases, the poles are salvaged and re-used. In others, the poles become the property of the contractor (this is part of their bid package; some contractors are able to bid lower dollar amounts knowing they'll also end up with some equipment like light poles as well) and new poles can be used.

Where is the closure information regarding the westbound lanes of I-10 at Heubner through UTSA Boulevard? I do not see the information on your Web site. The lack of posting the information and the closure of three lanes on a four lane interstate at 8:30pm is not appropriate. The work could be accomplished by closing two lanes at a time.
- Ricky

This closure - along with all other planned construction-related closures in the San Antonio region - was posted online right here on the Go Ahead! blog. This announcement is also sent to traditional media outlets. Because of the fluid nature of the closures along I-10 between Huebner and Loop 1604, we don't publish them on the TxDOT main Web site. For the same reason, and because of the temporary nature of these closures, we don't post specifics of the closure on the map application we have - that is reserved, by policy, for larger closures and weather-related stuff (like ice or floods).

As for the number of lanes closed, when we're working on the middle lanes we actually do need to take three lanes. This is done for safety - the safety of our crews as well as that of motorists. Safety will always be our top priority for stuff like this. By taking three lanes we can work in one lane and have a buffer area of one lane either side of our work crews, allowing for a safe work environment. This is considered a best practice that's used not only Texas-wide, but also nation-wide. It's not specific to us in San Antonio. Because it is, indeed, a larger closure we avoid daytime and peak traffic times. The closures start at 8:30 p.m. and are finished by 5:30 a.m.

We have had issues with the contractor closing multiple consecutive ramps, but that is being resolved with our contractor. That's not a best practice, and we're taking steps to ensure we don't have consecutive exits or consecutive entrances in the future.

I'm new to this site. Great info! Are there any new updates to the Shaenfield-Loop 1604 area work?
- Rich

Thanks - glad it's helping you out!
We had a post on the Loop 1604 project (tagged as "Loop 1604 Northwest") just this last week - Tuesday, in fact.
For all projects and posts, we use a tag cloud to help folks narrow their search of blog posts for specific projects. The tag cloud is that big mass of words - it seems random, but it's not - to the left of the screen when you're looking at the blog from your browser. The tags are listed in alphabetical order, and you'll notice the tags with more posts (like "closures") are much larger in the cloud than tags with very few associated posts.
The challenge is reading our minds regarding what we've named projects - we've tried to be as intuitive as possible. For instance, the expansion of Loop 1604 on the northwest side of town between Bandera and Culebra roads (including Shaenfield) is tagged "Loop 1604 Northwest" and the project at the intersection of Fredericksburg and Medical Drive is tagged "Fred-Med".
If you're finding some projects tagged in a way that's tough to decipher, let us know! We can always re-tag something - we just need to know when something doesn't make sense! Give us some reasons and some suggested alternatives, by the way. Solutions accompanying a sincere complaint will always gain the most traction with us.

How much longer do we have to wait for the project on Hwy 281 at Loop 1604 to begin?- David

Great question - and one we're only partially capable of answering. Hwy 281 - particularly north of Loop 1604 - falls under the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, who has what we call a "right of primacy" (also known as "dibs") on that corridor and is overseeing future development.
That includes getting finalized environmental clearance on the project, which should come this summer (according to the RMA, with whom we spoke on the phone to find answers to this question). The Environmental Impact Statement is finished and can be viewed by pretty much anyone online right here. Once that environmental clearance is issued work will begin in earnest to finish the designs for the project. The good folks with the RMA say they're shooting for early 2017 as a start date for the work on U.S. 281 north of Loop 1604 - and that includes the remaining connectors from Loop 1604 to U.S. 281.

The green traffic light for the westbound frontage road of I-10 at Ralph Fair Road is way too short! It allows only 4-5 vehicles (depending on type of vehicle) through before cycling to yellow. Traffic is backing up beyond the I-10 on ramp in the mornings. All is lost if someone is making a left turn onto Ralph Fair, as the lane configuration does not allow for any way around them to make a right turn on a red light. Can the length of the green light please be extended?
- Bernie

Bernie, we've had several mention issues with signal timing at this intersection, but yours is the first to tell us we're giving too little green time to the I-10 frontage road. Most are exactly the opposite.
That said, we clearly need to make sure our contractors are ensuring the timing is right and the detection system is picking up traffic appropriately.
As for that right-turn movement ... we should have that opened back up when we finish repaving the intersection in the next couple of weeks. When we're all done, that westbound frontage road will have one through lane, a left-turn lane and a right-turn lane. You'll be able to get where you're going a lot easier than you did before we got going.

I had a quick question regarding the FM 306 project Hunter Industries is working on. Part of the project was to create side roads to connect Goodwin Lane up to FM 306, one of which wraps around under the new railroad overpass. The side road themselves are completely lacking any type of curbs or water control of any sort nor any form of sidewalks for pedestrians to utilize. There are multiple apartment complexes in the vicinity and with all the care to pedestrian access on 306, I would have thought the side roads would have also included sidewalks.
Is this just temporary or was this the intended final design?
- Peter

Peter, when these plans were drawn up most of those apartments were completely non-existent. In fact, when we started construction there was one apartment complex along the entire project - one. Since then, following growth in that area of New Braunfels, apartments have been built.
We do not have in our plans sidewalks along the turnarounds under the UPRR underpasses. These turnarounds are built as access points to an area that is decidedly industrial (or so it was when the project was designed, using input from the general public).
That said, we can look into an additional project to add sidewalks and curbs. In order to make that a priority, you'll need to work with your local elected officials and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Anything you can find out about future plans for the intersection of I-10 and Scenic Loop Road in Boerne?
- Kam

A picture is always worth a thousand words, so here's a look (via a PowerPoint presentation to the Boerne City Council last month) at what's proposed and being planned. Keep in mind this $10 million project will take about two years to complete and will start late 2015 or early 2016.
Notice that we're adding turnarounds (proposed!), expanding the intersection itself and likely doing some work on the I-10 overpass itself. Again, this is all proposed - it's not yet finalized.
Also, forgive the use of "IH 10" on the slide - we just can't break our engineers of using that moniker....

TxDOT's site has an illustration of the new Hwy 151 intersection, and it is not clear on how Culebra connects to Hwy 151. Can you clarify?
- David

This picture should show a little better what's happening out there (and on pace to be finished by the end of 2016). As for the connection from Culebra Road, heading south along the Loop 1604 access road to reach the Hwy 151 ramp ... well, that's not happening. There's just not enough space to accommodate both traffic movements from southbound Loop 1604 main lanes onto westbound Alamo Ranch Parkway and southbound Loop 1604 frontage road onto eastbound Hwy 151.
Those involved with the planning process determined more traffic would be coming from southbound Loop 1604 to westbound Alamo Ranch Parkway, meaning that particular traffic movement will be the primary traffic generator. The result is that will be a possible traffic movement; moving along the southbound Loop 1604 frontage road from Culebra Road onto eastbound Hwy 151 will not.
At any rate, here's the aerial overview (you'll likely need to click on it and zoom in a bit to see what's happening):