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Monday, November 2

Mail Bag (2 of 2): Future plans for Lp 1604 and US 281, non-TxDOT issues reported

Friday's weather-related issues delayed this posting ... otherwise this would have been posted Friday or Saturday. So ... without further ado:

At southbound Stadium and N St. Marys 65 percent of the traffic turns right. This is a major access to downtown and SAC. Some 34 percent of the traffic goes strait. Anyone wanting to go to River Road or Zoo area would make a left back at Mulberry. Why, then, is there a dedicated left turn lane that seldom gets used. A dedicated right turn lane would do more to help traffic. This pattern has existed for 30-plus years and applies to every day of the week.
- Stanley

This issue belongs to our counterparts within the city of San Antonio - we've passed the comments along and they are aware of the concern. Thanks!

The intersection at westbound I-10 and Loop 1604 near The Rim is way over capacity and very congested during the (afternoon) rush hour. Is there a plan to build fly over ramps soon?
- Paul

The interchange - a cloverleaf design - is certainly beyond its intended capacity. It's an interchange we're aware of and trying to seek options that could fix the issue. The best plan currently in the works is a series of priority connectors between the managed lanes of I-10 and the managed lanes on Loop 1604. Right now all this is proposed and not set in stone, but we're working with the Alamo Area MPO to develop a workable plan.
Here's the real challenge we're facing: cash flow. A stack interchange - what folks typically think of when they think of a major interchange, such as what we have at I-10 and I-410 - is really costly. To build a complete interchange, we'd be looking at a price tag in the neighborhood of $500 million - a bit more than just pocket change, even for a government agency.
The main thing to know is we are aware of the need here, and we're working to develop options. The priorities for cash flow identified by folks living and driving throughout the region have not made this interchange a high enough priority for us to pour a ton of money into this location ... yet. If you'd like to help and bump this one up the list (or other projects, for that matter) contact the MPO for ways to get involved.

I am wondering if someone can revisit the decision to make the new frontage road lanes at the Ralph Fair intersection double left turns. If you want to make a u-turn the turn-around is open for that. If you are in the far left lane, the signage and stripes on the street lead you to also make a u-turn, but by driving across the bridge. The lane that goes straight and also can turn left is the only choice for those wanting to go straight and also those wanting to turn left, cross the bridge and then go straight or turn right onto the opposite frontage road. (Therefore, this is the most used lane, by far, and it gets really long.) It seems a left turn only lane that leads to the center lane on the bridge and a straight only lane would be a better choice for this intersection. I hope I explained this well enough that it makes sense and isn't too confusing. Thanks!
- Carrie

We can certainly look into this, Carrie. Your comment has been forwarded on to our operations folks to see what can be done. That said, be aware there may be some limitations here until the I-10 frontage roads are one-way on both sides of this bridge. In particular, the work between Ralph Fair Road and Boerne Stage Road being done (on the eastbound side) will need to wrap up before we're able to do this.

Any plans to add capacity on 1604 between Bandera and I-10?
- Zane

There are! We are working through the MPO and the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority to develop a lasting plan. You can see the latest on that plan here.

The sun rays are interfering with traffic signals during the early morning and evening (sunrise and sunset) on Boerne Stage Road and HEB. The impact seems to leave no safe left-turn light when traveling northwest on Boerne Stage Road and the light is green for only about 10-12 seconds for the main traffic on Boerne Stage Road when when long traffic line builds up.
- Raj

Those sensors may just need to be cleaned. We're passing this note along to the folks with Bexar County, as these signals are not TxDOT signals.

With the U.S. 281 expressway still a few years away there are only a few options from northern Stone Oak to get into town. The traffic on southbound Blanco Road north of 1604 in the morning has been horrendous. It will take me 30 minutes from Timberwood Park to get to 1604. The lights at 1604 and Blanco seem to be on a really, really short cycle (less than 20 seconds) and I think that lengthening that could ease congestion for thousands of people each day. What else can be done until the expressway?
- Bryan

We'll talk to our friends with the city about the timing of signals along that corridor - they have already been optimized, but we can look at tweaking something again.
In the meantime, if you're having a tough time during peak traffic hours, you might consider moving your workday hours (where possible). One of the greatest things we can do as drivers or employers is consider off-peak start and end times to workdays. We even do that here with our folks - we stagger our start schedules so we have some folks that start as early as 6 a.m., and others who start around 9. The result is a minimized impact on those heavier traffic times between 7 and 8 a.m. (and a similar impact later in the day).
Here's some good news for you, Bryan: the expressway on US 281 between Loop 1604 and Stone Oak Parkway is set to start in 2017, which would mean that segment could wrap up as soon as 2020.

There was a light pole on Hildebrand and U.S 281 which was struck by a truck a month ago. How would they install a new light pole on the base of the previous broken light pole?
- Jose

Most street lights, traffic signal poles and highway signs include a breakaway base designed to snap and allow the pole to fall in a direction that minimizes potential harm in the event of a crash. These have been included since the late 1990s on pretty much anything (except for street lights mounted to the top of concrete median barrier) that could pose a danger when hit.
The added benefit - in addition to safety benefits - is on the replacement side. The base or foundation of the breakaway mount is typically still very usable after a collision. If this is the case crews can simply mount a new pole to the existing base. It's a simple and relatively quick process - ordering the required pole and lights becomes a more lengthy process than actually installing the pole.
Does that answer your question?