Wednesday, September 23

Mail Bag: the Braun Road intersection at Loop 1604, speed limits on Wurzbach Parkway and UTSA Blvd turnarounds.

Loop 1604 northwest

Are there any plans to reformat the intersection under the new overpass to alleviate traffic on Braun? Perhaps an additional turn lane?
- Josh
Are there any plans to add a second left turn lane at the stoplight turning onto northbound 1604 from eastbound Braun Road?
- Mike
Just wondering when the intersection of Braun and 1604 will get two left turn lanes instead of just one.
- Eric
The intersection at 1604 and Braun desperately needs a second turn lane.
- Ryan

Josh, Mike, Eric and Ryan ... you ask a great question! This is a question we've talked through a few times before, including a brief mention in a video a few months back. However, the need to address it again is pretty plain, as you're not the only ones asking. By the way, forgive the editorial license to cut some of your notes down to the single sentence - we wanted to show folks the numbers and just how oft-asked this question is.
The current configuration, with eastbound Braun Road offering a single left-turn lane onto northbound Loop 1604, will continue as-is until the current phase of construction is complete and we have traffic active on the overpass at Braun Road. The reason for this is signal sequencing; currently we are able to run traffic in opposing directions concurrently; opening that center lane to an optional left/straight lane, as has been often suggested, would create conflicts and require traffic signals to be sequenced so that only one direction would be allowed to move at a time. That would actually make the congestion at this location much worse.
As for those many have pointed out are breaking the law by making an illegal left turn from the center through lane, we recommend contacting the city of San Antonio's finest and asking for some additional enforcement. The actions of some are causing a dangerous situation for those who are obeying the posted regulatory signs.
Once the project is finished the intersection will be sequenced much like other cross-street intersections at expressways. We'll have two left-turn lanes from eastbound Braun to northbound Loop 1604. It's going to be awesome for everyone - but it's going to take some doing to get to.
While you're waiting for that, consider some alternate routes. Driving FM 1560 through Helotes to reach Loop 1604 at Bandera or Hausman, for instance, isn't a horrible option. Certainly worth a look!

The buttress located on the southbound on ramp back onto old 1604 which separates the continued access road to Culebra is extremely dangerous as it is too close to the actual merging lane - both lanes merging back onto 1604 are also too narrow for safe driving. There is a significant count of large trucks and semis that travel this route and this is by far the worst temporary fix I have seen in a long time. Please consider revamping this one spot for the safely of all travelers.
- Nina

Nina, thank you for your observations. For those who don't know what she's talking about, we're on southbound Loop 1604 between Shaenfield and Culebra roads. The entrance ramp putting traffic back onto the main lanes and avoiding the intersection of Culebra is the issue here.
First, safety is our top priority. No question. With that in mind, this is the permanent entrance ramp for traffic; when we're finished with work, this will be a single-lane entrance ramp allowing southbound traffic from Shaenfield to enter the main lanes toward Hwy 151 and beyond.
That said, it was built with more width; those lanes on the ramp are 11 feet wide and feature four-inch stripes on the sides and a four-inch dashed line in the middle (total of an additional 12 inches). We also have at least six inches of clearance between these lines and the concrete railing (or barrier) on either side of the ramp. Total width of the two-lane ramp right now: about 24 feet.
Let's put that into perspective. Your typical highway lane is 12 feet wide, with occasional lanes reaching 13 feet in width. We do have some going as much as 15 feet wide, such as on the Loop 1604 frontage roads on the north side of San Antonio, in areas requiring "shared use" - meaning cars and bicycles can use them at the same time.
In work zones, we are allowed to take lanes down to 10 feet on non-Interstate highways (we do try to stay at 11 feet on the Interstates). That means that, at 11 feet, these two entrance ramps actually exceed the Federal Highway Adminstration's standard for safety.
What's more, the concrete rail we have out there is buffered with a 400-foot striped gore area to guide traffic safely onto the ramp.
All that said, your suggestion has been forwarded on to our project engineers; if there is something that makes good engineering sense that can be done, they'll do it!

Wurzbach Parkway

I'm thrilled to see Wurzbach Parkway finally opening up. Why is there a long section that is only 45 MPH when there are sections at 60 MPH and 55 MPH? 45 MPH seems to cripple the parkway's usefulness.
- Adam

The posted speed limit on Wurzbach Parkway between Blanco Road and Wetmore is intentionally posted at 45 MPH because of specification requirements in the design stages. When a road is designed and a curb or sidewalk is involved, specification books don't allow a design speed above 45 miles per hour.
That doesn't mean the currently posted speed can't be changed, however. If requested by the local municipalities, a speed study can be done and the speed limits be changed. For the time being, however, this stretch of roadway continues to be a 45 MPH road, and folks driving the area should keep the lead feet off the skinny pedal and enjoy the drive
By the way, the difference in time for this stretch between traveling 60 MPH and 45 MPH is 1.8 minutes. That's a far cry from crippling the usefulness of a road when you consider the time saved over other routes

I-10 Huebner

When will the new turnaround next to UTSA blvd open?
- Zane
The blog from October 28, 2014 stated that the east-to-west turnaround at UTSA would "definitely" be open before Thanksgiving...
This was Thanksgiving 2014? Any updates...
- Jay

Jay, you're right to ask - at the time of that post, the plan was indeed Thanksgiving 2014. Here we are now, a full 10 months later, and we're just now getting it open.
The paving subcontractor on this project - Angel Brothers Construction - has used the turnaround bridge as a staging area for equipment they use during their overnight paving work. We've been asking for several months for that equipment to be moved, but without any financial disincentive we haven't had an easy go of making that happen to our liking.
Once the equipment was finally moved here about six weeks ago, we noted the presence of several very large and very dark oil and tar stains on the brand-new bridge deck. Rather than open traffic up immediately, we've been trying to get Angel Brothers to clean those stains up. Well, stubborn stains as they are (a simple blast of selzer water isn't getting the job done) they've just not been lifted.
Now we're at a point where we're trying to simply get the turnaround open and in use, then figure out how to seek proper compensation for the stains on our nice, new bridge. In order to do so, we need the bridge striped. Angel Brothers is doing that work, also. We're waiting for those striping crews to be able to finish the bridge out, along with the striping to blend the bridge into the westbound frontage road coming from UTSA Boulevard, to have the whole thing opened.
Unfortunately we don't have a date to announce - that date has shifted so many times over the last ten months, it's nearly worthless at this point anyway  - but we do carry this work as an absolute priority.

I-10 Leon Springs

How may I obtain a "general" idea of the monthly plans rather than the more specific weekly plans for traffic conditions along the Dominion, Ralph Fair, and Boerne exits.
- Ann

Ann, we try and provide a paragraph or so on the general overview of things with each post on here. That's typically a look at what's happening during the upcoming month as well as what to expect that particular week.
With each project meeting a three-week work schedule (an internal document wildly subject to change) is discussed, and the information from these schedules is taken and used for what you see on these posts. It's not a perfect system, but with the limited resources we've got it's the system we're using.
That said, we can certainly make a more concerted effort to include a look at what to expect for the next month or so in our posts!

When do you expect to have another update on Leon Springs area, specifically Dominion Drive to Ralph Fair Road? Thanks for all your hard work on these updates!
- Mike

Well, thanks Mike! Our latest update was posted last week. Your question predates that post, we know - but we're including this in order to let folks know about the post!
Moving forward we are going to try to have posts on this (and other!) projects at least twice a month so folks can stay in the know.

I keep hearing about the access roads near Boerne Stage road being converted to one-way sometime soon. Will there be alternative access built for the locations along the eastbound side (for instance, Las Palapas, the shopping center with Double Daves & Subway)?
- Austin

Austin, these frontage roads will operate much like other frontage roads in metro or urban areas. With a turnaround and a new frontage road at Boerne Stage Road your trips from Dominion to Las Palapas will take a lot less time than you imagine.
Folks concerned about the frontage road conversion along I-10 in the Leon Springs area often mistakenly think of traffic patterns as they exist today. However, we're building a new westbound frontage road from about Fralos to Boerne Stage Road. Yes, that adds another traffic signal to an already bogged-down Boerne Stage Road between Rudy's and HEB. However, those traveling the frontage road will find a much quicker travel time than they have been accustomed to. The turnaround at Boerne Stage Road should easily facilitate those headed from The Dominion to any shop in the HEB complex there at Boerne Stage Road.
Because of this, no additional roads will be built on the eastbound side. If you're interested, you can see the aerial overview of what's going to be out there right here.