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Tuesday, December 15

Mail Bag: Kind words to TxDOT, Wurzbach Pkwy issues, questions about Lp 1604

Sorry for the dearth of responses over the last several weeks - bouncing between a number of issues with projects wrapping up and finishing, combined with the hectic schedule around the holidays, has made for a schedule challenging for blog posts like this. Please keep sending your questions and we'll get the best answers possible for them!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My drive to work (on Wurzbach) was still at 45 miles per hour but I went out at lunch and it was changed. There are those who will still go faster than 60 MPH, but at least I can feel safer. I appreciate your blog and followed it regularly for Wurzbach Parkway updates. I will continue to use for other construction updates. Thank you for the work you do for the citizens of San Antonio. It is appreciated.
- Anonymous
Thank you for lifting the speed limit on Wurzbach Parkway from N.W. Military Drive to Starcrest. What a difference it makes. I love this new expressway - it is clean, beautiful and I use it daily.
- Elizabeth
This note is from a happy traveler! Each time I travel on the Wurzbach Parkway it tickles me! After following the news items about the progress being made on its planning, building, and opening, I am delighted that it is complete and open for business! My congratulation to TxDOT on a job well done and thank you from someone who is tickled to enjoy traveling on it!
- Margie

Well ... thank you all for your kind words! We passed your compliments along to the folks responsible for the sign changes as well as for the project overall. They're always glad to hear a kind word!

Whomever came up with the idea to put the barrier up at northbound I-35 where I-35 and US 281 and I-37 all come together is a genius. That was a really bad spot in the morning as people coming from the lower level would shoot across two or three lanes of traffic in an attempt to reach Broadway or I-37. Thank you very much!
- Frank

Well thank you, Frank! Glad to do it. Sounds like the barrier is having its intended result! We aren't finished with that project yet, by the way; we still have a final surface of asphalt to lay down. That will not happen until a streak of warmer temperatures hits, though - likely this spring.

Just curious as to why 281 NB lanes between Nakoma and Bitters were configured as they are now. ... I am really hoping that with the opening of the Wurzbach Pkwy exit things will smooth out, but if not, would there be plans to re-stripe the roadway to get an exit only and possibly get things moving better?
- Mark

Mark, the opening of the Wurzbach Parkway exit should have smoothed everything out. Our apologies for the long-delayed response!
As for future plans ... what you see now is what you'll get moving forward. There is some added space out there. That will allow us to adjust the highway for growth in the future, if we should need to do so. That does, however, require federal approval as it involves adding capacity to the highway.

With the new interchange at Loop 1604 and US 281, the entrance ramp from the southbound US 281 access road to the southbound US 281 main lanes was relocated. Now everyone must go through the traffic light at Donella. This results in queues approaching a half-mile in length. ... Why can’t this intersection be made similar to the Super Street that US 281 was made into north of 1604? The overpass could be closed, turnarounds would remain open, and the signals removed. All traffic from entering Donella would be forced to travel either north or south to the next turnaround. This would greatly improve mobility in this area. Even better is that it would likely cost very little in capital costs.
- Travis

Interesting ideas; nothing we can definitively speak about at this point, Travis. We've passed the suggestion along to the folks with operations and with planning and design so they can add it to the list of suggestions to run through and determine feasibility and impact. Thanks!

Since the frontage roads between Ralph Fair and Fair Oaks Ranch will eventually become one way, are there plans to add a light at the intersection of Old Fredericksburg Road and Ralph Fair? Currently that section of Old Fredericksburg Road is closed for construction but once it reopens it is the only exit for people to go south to Ralph Fair. ... As more developers add to the Old Fredericksburg area, the congestion really backs up in the mornings. Thanks!
- Heidi

Heidi, at the risk of misunderstanding what's being asked, let us assure you the conversion of the frontage roads to one-way will not happen until the overpass at Old Fred Road and I-10 is finished and functioning. Until that point you'll have two-way access along the frontage roads on both sides of I-10 between Ralph Fair and Fair Oaks.
Once the new overpass is built and the frontage roads are converted we'll have a full-fledged intersection at Old Fred and I-10, eliminating the issue you've brought up with the Old Fred-Ralph Fair intersection being the "only exit" for people to use going south. The issue will, essentially, take care of itself.
In the interim, with the construction going on between Ralph Fair and Fair Oaks, we're aware an issue may arise again at your intersection. That said, we do not have plans to add a traffic signal. The biggest reason is proximity to the I-10 signals. We don't like, on TxDOT-controlled roads, to place signals in such close proximity (we are aware of the situation on Boerne Stage Road at HEB ... that is not a TxDOT-operated road).

Who can I contact about perhaps more barricades being placed on the 6300–6500 block of Tezel? Especially the middle turning lane.
- Yvonne

That request needs to go through the city of San Antonio - that project belongs to them.

Where exactly will there be an exit/entrance from 1604 to New Guilbeau Rd.?
- Maria

This is a situation where a picture is, quite honestly, worth a thousand words. So we won't waste any more words and just leave a picture (pro tip: click on the picture to be able to zoom in and see details):

My back fence is against the grassy area next to 1604 by potranco (outside the loop). I was told that my back fence was going to be replaced with a sound reducing fence due to the overpass planned. Can I have more info on this?
- Natalie

We are indeed including a sound wall at the Westcreek Oaks subdivision along the new southbound frontage road, just to the north of Potranco Road. This wall will be built on TxDOT right-of-way and will not replace fencing built on private property. Note a sound wall is a tall concrete wall; it's not going to be fancy. Function over form on this kind of thing.
Here's a look at the wall location, from our planning folks:
Construction on this project, which will extend the expressway of Loop 1604 through Potranco Road, will begin summer 2016. The project will take at least two and a half years to complete.

You've said that all the work is done now, and I know from reading here that the path from Northbound US 281 to westbound Wurzbach Parkway is to exit Bitters, turn around, and backtrack to Wurzbach. Why don't the signs say that? The only sign that tells drivers that ... is sign on the northbound frontage road of US 281 that says westbound Wurzbach is straight ahead (although the "WEST" portion is covered up for some reason). There is no sign telling drivers to turn around at Bitters (but there is a turn around sign for the opposite direction at Nakoma). Seems to me the most efficient 281 signage would be to turn the current Wurzbach Parkway exit into an eastbound Wurzbach Parkway exit and turn the Bitters Rd exit into an exit for both Bitters Rd and westbound Wurzbach Parkway (and add the turnaround sign approaching the intersection).
- Travis

Travis, we took this directly to our operations folks that handle signs. The Wurzbach exit has to stay the Wurzbach exit - intended to capture traffic for both directions of Wurzbach Parkway. It's the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Silly. Fewer signs announcing Wurzbach Parkway (PA 1502) means fewer opportunities for confusion and problems.
At this point, however, these issues should be resolved. At the time you wrote in these were "punch-list" items - finalizing items the contractor needed to finish. That included removing the covering from the sign along the northbound frontage road to which you've referenced. What we should have in place on the northbound side of US 281 are:
- Three large main lane overhead sign boards
- Two white and green signs on the northbound frontage road
- Route markers per the TMUTCD
With crews wrapping all this up, some of the deficiencies you've pointed out should have been addressed already.