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Thursday, February 18

Mail Bag: Safety cables, sidewalks and traffic signals - and a whole lot more....

I was wondering when the median cables on I-10 between the Bexar County line and Leon Springs would be repaired. Quite a few are down or are bent. When they are like that is does not seem to protect like they are supposed to. Thank you.
- Michael

Michael, thanks for your note. We have similar issues with our new cable median barriers along Hwy 151 as well - they've become victim to car crashes. We are issuing work orders as quickly as we can to get these barriers repaired.

Just how important is the safety of the Schertz residents during the construction of these sidewalks (along FM 3009)? How rude can the construction crew be and how much screaming are they allowed to do at pedestrians who are trying to walk to work safely? My son, walked on the dry sidewalk for safety reasons, was screamed at to get off, and almost hit by two cars. The construction along the entire length of FM 3009 is so messed up, no safe place for people to walk safely along the road now exists. At least before the sidewalks began it was possible for people to walk to work and not be hit by oncoming traffic. Now the only options are to get hit or get screamed at. Your construction crew have no right to be screaming at anyone. Let them work in the street so the pedestrians may safely walk. They owe many, many apologies! Even as a driver who had to pull over into one of the closed lanes I was yelled at. We don't need sidewalks this badly, if this is how we have to get them. Send your crew packing!
- Therese

Therese, thank you for writing. I hope you'll note we did our best to keep your whole message to us intact - we want to be fully transparent here. We did edit for clarity of your issue.
Let us first apologize for the way it appears you've been treated. We will discuss the matter with our contractors - they need to be better ambassadors than that. Courtesy should be held at all times, by all parties.
That said, we should address a few issues. First, at no time should any vehicle ever pull into a lane closed for use as an active construction zone. This is a serious safety hazard. While drivers who do so absolutely do not deserve to be verbally accosted, they are rightly asked to move along by construction crews. Let all other drivers take note: pulling over into a closure area is unsafe and should never be done. Look for an empty parking lot to pull into if you're looking to pull over for any reason whatsoever.
Prior to this project starting no safe route to walk along FM 3009 existed. The purpose of this project is to create one. While concrete may appear to be dry, it was likely a fresh pour from the prior day or two. While walking on the sidewalk may not leave footprints, it's still not an opened sidewalk. It's part of an active construction zone and is dangerous to walk in.
To be clear: no pedestrian should ever walk in or through an active construction zone except where a specifically marked pedestrian detour route has been laid out. In this case, no pedestrian detour route was put into place because the area had no prior pedestrian facilities. That said, we can look into options to help that situation out so your son can reach his destination as intended.

Any plans to relieve the congestion on FM1560 between Bandera Road and Shaenfield Road?
In a word: yes! The problem is funding. While we don't have anything programmed for that area right now, we do have this on our radar. In order to accomplish that we'll need to acquire right-of-way and go through the whole process of designing and public meetings ... we're a few years away.
Here's the good news: the work on Lp 1604 is only a few short months from finishing up, and a lot of the excess traffic that's on FM 1560 to escape the construction delays will return to a much more efficient Lp 1604 at that time. While that should help, it won't solve anything.
Which is why we're working with the city of Helotes to find a way to expedite work that otherwise may wait five years or more.

Regarding the eastbound I-10 on-ramp from Scenic Loop Road, the ramp seems too short and barricades block the shoulder so merging traffic doesn't have space to speed up. Can anything be done to help?
- Resident
Truthfully, the ramp hasn't changed in length whatsoever - it's been untouched in our traffic control plan for the reconstruction of that intersection. The concrete traffic barrier was placed at that location due to a drop-off that would be a serious safety issue, so moving the barrier isn't a viable solution. That said, we'll keep a watchful eye out to see if there are any issues we can address during the construction phasing to improve the area and ensure drivers are able to adequately speed up to the posted limit of 70 miles per hour prior to needing to merge.

I realize that it's always been two lanes of Boerne Stage Road under I-10. That's the problem: two lanes is not enough with current traffic loads. When does TxDOT plan to open up all four lanes under I-10? That would greatly relieve the current traffic nightmare there.
- Andy

You're absolutely right, Andy. Having all four lanes open will help. That's why we're building them! We're hoping to have some more lane configurations open up along that whole project next month. We'll have more on the blog next week to describe what all is happening and what folks in the area may expect.

What's going on with the traffic light at New Guilbeau and 1604? Why was it out for so long?
For those not familiar with the area, Zane is referring to a malfunction of the signal control box that occurred late Monday and wasn't fixed until mid-morning Tuesday this week. Such a delayed response is highly uncharacteristic, and is partly due to the project staff not even learning about the malfunction until Tuesday morning. Once the malfunction was discovered by project personnel they had crews in place to address the issue within a few short hours.
Several folks - some of us here at TxDOT included - were caught in the traffic delays and spent as much as 45 extra minutes to get through New Guilbeau Road that morning.
The good news: lesson learned. We were able to get officers on site relatively quickly Tuesday morning to direct traffic. What's more, we've got methods in place to be more diligent about inspecting these signals, even during holidays. We shouldn't see this problem again.
Better news: we should all be driving on the overpasses and expressways before the school year lets out, so this sort of thing won't be such an impact should it happen again in the future.

Will there eventually be a better way to get on Wurzbach Parkway going east from 281? Right now, you have to do the turnaround to get to the east entrance.
- Pam 
Pam, you must be talking about the southbound US 281 to eastbound Wurzbach Parkway movement. Honestly, no - this is the configuration we've had planned for years. Because of the proximity to the airport we can't build the much taller direct connectors (requiring at least two additional levels of roadway, increasing our elevation by some 60 or more feet) that would ease that movement. What's more, we simply don't have the $500 million in the bank to construct direct connectors for Wurzbach and US 281.
So, for the foreseeable future (10 years or more), the current arrangement is what we'll have out there for you - just as we'd discussed from day one with the project.