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Thursday, November 19

Culebra Road medians - all the info you need

The medians on Culebra Road have caused many to question about the motive behind their installation. It's a topic we've posted on before - twice - and we won't delve further into the whys behind the whats today.

We will discuss some specifics folks have asked about, though. Of particular note is some scheduled work for this weekend resulting in closures Saturday folks really should pay attention to. We've also got some changes to the project brought because of the voice of folks who've called in to provide input.

This weekend's work
One major component to this project is a final overlay - a new surface of asphalt on top of the existing road surface. It's the last bit of work needed before the project is complete. The challenge with that is the time of year we are entering into; asphalt has some significant temperature requirements, and we cannot lay hot asphalt in cooler temperatures.
However, we want very much to finish this project quickly- very quickly. Once the project is complete we will turn over Culebra Road (between Loop 1604 and the Culebra-Grissom-Tezel intersection) to the city of San Antonio for city ownership and maintenance.
Here's what to expect: Beginning 6 a.m. Saturday crews will close alternating lanes - one lane in each direction - to lay asphalt. Traffic will be limited to a single lane in each direction. We expect crews to wrap up what they're doing by 6 p.m. Saturday.
Through the week we will continue to restrict work like this to the hours of 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Please note inclement weather can stop the work we've got planned, and if our inspectors observe significant impact on the traffic we will wrap up the work and push for overnight work. That said, the whole reason for this is to avoid overnight-only work and speed this project along. Remember asphalt cannot be placed in cooler temperatures and overnight temps this time of the year frequently dip below our tolerance levels.

Changes in the works
For several weeks we have fielded multiple calls each day, as have city staff, with folks asking or offering concerns about the raised medians being put into place. Again, this is all input we would have more easily incorporated had we been able to record this feedback during our open house meeting held in 2014. (Take-away message here: attend those meetings! We really do incorporate the ideas shared at those meetings!)
However we have made two major changes to the project. These changes are being constructed right now.
At the intersection of Culebra-Tezel-Grissom, we are extending the left-turn storage bay for traffic from Grissom onto Culebra. The additional space (about 65 feet) will be taken from the storage space given to folks turning left into the HEB lot.
At the intersection of Culebra and Selene we will remove a narrow portion of median to allow access for The Water Works and Family Dollar businesses, relieving some of the cross-access pressure there. All that's being removed here is the thin section of raised median, and we're clearing it out to the wider portion. The result will be a gap of about 419 feet opened up at this location.
Finally, we are adding a yellow center stripe along the base of the curb - not something we typically do, but something that's been requested. This will reduce lane widths by about six inches, so drivers should be aware. Previous lane widths were equivalent to what was out there before the medians were installed.

Shared access
The key to mobility along any corridor featuring raised median is a concept called shared access. The term has a number of meanings, but for our purposes it speaks to the ability of a motorist to reach several destinations through a single parking lot driveway access point. One very good example of this is at the southeast corner of Tezel-Grissom-Culebra. Several businesses - including CVS, Taco Bell, Jiffy Lube, Just Brakes, Auto Zone and Jeff Speakman's Kenpo - can be accessed from the same driveway cut. Folks on Grissom Road wanting to reach Grissom or Taco Bell, for instance, can turn into this shared-access grouping at Auto Zone or at Jeff Speakman's Kenpo and use the driving area behind these businesses to safely and conveniently reach their destination.
This shared access is a major consideration when we think of how and where to place a median across the region and the state. It's a common practice nation-wide, actually. As local patrons learn the shared access points of their favorite establishments the traffic issues we've heard about will begin to ease up.

In the event of the onset of colder weather, we may button things up, put the project on pause and finish up in the spring. If this happens you'll see the orange signs and some orange barrels or cones, but no work will take place. This will only be done if we can't get the asphalt down in time, but those in the area should be aware of the possibility.