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Wednesday, October 7

Culebra Road and I-35/I-37 interchange: big questions and concerns

We currently have two ongoing projects garnering attention from those moving through their areas for their restriction of movements folks have long become accustomed to.

Culebra Road

Along Culebra Road a raised center median has appeared between Loop 1604 and Grissom Road. This raised median is classified as a safety project, but it will result in a better flow of traffic as well. The median restricts left-turn movements to cross-street areas to eliminate what traffic engineers refer to as conflict points. These conflicts are created any time you have two cars competing for the same space of roadway; increased conflict points means increased risk of collisions.

Our goal here, as we mentioned when we took this to our public meetings last year, was to provide improved safety while taking a balanced approach accounting for existing access along this corridor.

Folks will find continued access to their favorite taco stand, gas station or other business is maintained by what's called "cross access"; these businesses share access to a cross street via a mutual parking lot with another business. This cross access was a major factor determining the location of cuts in the median when this project was in the design phases and when we discussed these at our public meetings.

Work is nearly complete - the medians will finish this month, in fact, and you'll see a fresh asphalt surface over the following weeks.

Interchange of I-35 and I-37/US 281

The downtown interchange of I-35 and US 281 (or I-37), particularly on the northbound side of I-35 here, sees a frustratingly high number of drivers cutting in and out trying to navigate from the upper-lower level split to the appropriate ramp. This project is designed to stop that cutting in and out and put folks on the correct path well in advance. From day one, we were pretty open about eliminating the option to reach I-37 or US 281 from the lower-level lanes with this job.

Barrels are currently marking the location of a permanent concrete barrier that keeps the upper-level traffic on northbound I-35 headed to the ramps for Broadway and US 281/I-37. Lower-level traffic will continue along northbound I-35 beyond the I-37 interchange.

Construction on this job is simple - we're only building a median barrier. The schematic shows only a hard red line, showing the location of the new barrier. We should be finished with the $2.3 million project in time for the holidays, if all goes well.

Work on this project is mostly overnight; be aware of our crews at night. During the day those barrels are in place to help train drivers on the new configuration - it's a soft "wall" to dull the sting the concrete wall might make if a careless or unknowing driver tries to make that cut-off from the lower level lanes to the ramps to US 281 or I-37 once we're finished.