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Monday, April 18

Rain impacts - water overtopping and pushed-back project milestones

Several immediate questions come every time heavy rains hit the San Antonio area. The first is always about which roadways are closed. The second is about how construction projects may be impacted.

Water over the road
First of all, any time you see water over the roadway you should stop, turn around and find another route. If you're on a highway where two-way traffic is not possible you should stop, turn on your hazard lights and notify emergency personnel. When police or fire department units arrive, follow their directions to get to an alternate route.
This morning the biggest closure in San Antonio was at the interchange of I-410 and I-35 near Windcrest. Trash clogged the drain inlets where eastbound I-410 runs to I-35 and water didn't have anywhere to go. Our crews were on site all morning and, after about 3 hours of hard work, were able to get the drains safely unclogged so we could open the highway back up and running.
Let's be clear about the cause here: random trash, including wrappers and plastic bottles, tossed out of vehicles on the roadway. No matter what our crews do to combat an issue like this, the ultimate responsibility for trash littering the highway has to come from the drivers who allowed this debris to hit our roads. It's not like there are superheroes running around to clean up behind everyone everywhere....
Who is it that's messing up Texas? Well, one in four Texans admit to tossing trash out their window on the roadway. Seriously - ONE in FOUR! Most of that trash is small stuff we think inconsequential, like gum wrappers or cigarette butts. Those accumulate, though, and create a major problem. Somehow the messages from back in the 1990s didn't quite get through to some folks.
Bottom line, y'all: Don't Mess with Texas!

Note: not all roads are TxDOT roads
Just to be clear, the only roads we actively report on fall within TxDOT jurisdiction. This means all state highways (16, 46, 151), all FM roads (1560, 1518), all interstate highways (I-10, I-35, I-37, I-410) and all U.S. Highways (87, 90, 281). For statewide reports, visit - which, by the way, is optimized for use with your handheld device. Just don't use it while driving.
Other roads fall under city or county jurisdiction, depending on the location. For reports on city roads, follow the city's Twitter feed. For county road reports, follow the county.

Construction delays
The notable delay this week is the projected opening of new southbound main lanes of Loop 1604 between Bandera and Culebra roads. This was slated to happen last night - in time for the morning commute today. The only task really remaining is to lay the final course of asphalt. That requires dry weather, though, and we'll not have a firm date for the opening until we get a day or two sans rain.
On the bright side, sunny days are nigh and this project is still running well ahead of schedule. Let's not forget initial projections showed these lanes wouldn't be open until mid-summer. Having them open at all before school gets out is a huge win for everyone.
Truth is every project we have is impacted. A small closure on the northbound frontage road of I-410 between Hwy 151 and West Military, for instance, has been moved from tonight to tomorrow night because of the weather. Overnight asphalt operations on Culebra have slowed. Any dirt work on the I-35 projects are pushed until the dirt dries out (usually 2-3 days). Pushing a bulldozer through wet, soft dirt can be a bad idea, so we try to wait for dry weather and work smarter on these jobs.