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Thursday, July 14

Mail Bag: Loop 1604 speed limits, US 281 Spring Branch, Ralph Fair Road

There's some confusion with the service road speed limits between Bandera and Braun for the Loop 1604 area. During construction, the speed limit was 45, then some 40 mph signs showed up, but were quickly covered with trash bags. Now the 45 mph construction signs are gone and the 40 mph signs are back. On one side there's several permanent signs present within a few yards of each other going from 40 to 45 and back to 40 mph. Two questions on this: Why did it go to a lower speed limit post-construction? Seems backward. And why on earth are there so many permanent speed limit changes going from Braun to Bandera in such a tight space? Sadly, no one is obeying any of them and will run anyone down that is trying to keep the speed limit which is really confusing with all the changes there.
- Rick
Thanks, Rick, for your note. The first issue is the discrepancy between speed limits along the frontage road. Here's what I got, to that issue, via email from our project engineer Wednesday:
The conflicting speed limit signs should have been fixed already. I was told yesterday that they were done. There should be no 45’s only 40’s.
On to the question about the drop in speed limit along here. The answer is fairly simple: when we had the speed limits posted at 45 mph, these frontage roads were essentially serving as the main lanes of Loop 1604 (because they were the only lanes). Now, with the main lanes open and in use (posted at 60 mph, by the way), the frontage road limits are being set at 40.
It seems slow right now, we get it. Just hang tight for a bit and a lot of development is coming in the near future. Just off the top of our heads (based on huge signs at locations) there's a large storage facility, a convenience store, a large community church and a strip mall coming in the near future. That development doesn't even account for the already existing locations that have bolstered frontage or added signs (we're looking at you, gymnastics center).
Truth is, folks in the area should be ready for a boom in commercial development and the resultant increase in traffic along these frontage roads. When that happens, the 40 mph speed limit will make more sense.

US 281 at the Spring Branch post office is a bottle neck. I am sure it also has the effect of keeping the speed limits from being raised to match the roadway that has been built. How can this highway improvement have been built without making arrangements for the USPS and the bottle neck it has caused?
- Glen

Well ... thanks for drudging up the past! Kidding.
This is an issue we discussed quite a bit back in 2014. For a few posts of note, check here or here. We were asked last year about the issue, and we don't have a lot of movement to report.
As of this spring the USPS told us they were expecting to be at their new location and vacating our property by summer 2017. That is, so long as the new proposed location at the corner of Blazing Meadow Road and US 281 is under construction thus summer.

A while back, I remember reading a detailed projection of the work between Ralph Fair Rd and Fair Oaks Pkwy. I noticed work has begun along that corridor. I may have missed it, but I was wondering what the latest updates are.
- AJ
Work has, indeed, begun! We've been underway since March now. We did see a pretty decent delay due to weather in April and May, and we lost about a month of good work.
This weekend you'll experience a slew of closures between Ralph Fair Road and Fair Oaks Parkway. We're not going to sugar coat this: it's going to be difficult to drive through. We need to extend some asphalt across the four ramps through here so we're ready to switch traffic next week. This means we'll close alternating ramps Saturday (July 16) throughout the day. We'll only have one ramp closed at a time, but we expect to see some significant impact from each closure.
Work is set to begin about 6 a.m. Saturday. We're hoping to have things finished by sundown Saturday.
Again, we'll have all four ramps closed, one at a time, for a few hours at a time. We will have off-duty police officers managing traffic at the intersections of I-10 and Ralph Fair Road and at Fair Oaks Parkway, as appropriate.
Next weekend we'll be working to shift traffic on the westbound main lanes over about 15-20 feet in order to make room to build the new overpass at Old Fredericksburg Road. To prepare for that work we'll have a continuation of the overnight closures we've had here for the last week or two.
We'll get to the eastbound main lanes 2-3 weeks after we get the westbound lanes situated.

What is going on Ralph Fair Road north of I-10? There have been daily lane closures with no announcements causing major delays for local traffic. Seems like they are doing some surveying and pushing around some dirt but why couldn't they just set the barriers instead of backing the whole area up? How long will these continue to happen?
- Danko
You're not the only one to ask. We posted on this just last week - let us know if you have any further questions after checking it out!

I know this has been asked before but when will all the construction be completed at Boerne Stage Rd and Ralph Fair? It just seems to be so close to being completed but dragging out. Will it be done before school starts?
- Christina
What's going on with the service road lanes on both sides between Ralph Fair Road and Boerne Stage Road? It seems the construction site has been abandoned as no progress has been made in what appears to be months. Also, this project seems to be WAY past a scheduled completion date. Wasn't this started in 2013?
- Gerard
Gerard, we'll start with your initial questions. You're mixing two separate projects:
The first involved the expansion of the Ralph Fair Road bridge, including some upgrades to the intersection and conversion of the frontage roads between Ralph Fair and Boerne Stage to one-way roads. That did indeed start a number of years back, and Sundt Construction finished that project up a year ago.
The second project, being built by Texas Sterling Company, started March 2015. You can see the numbers all right here - the project ID is 0072.07.059. To be very blunt, yes - we should have been wrapping up about now. Unfortunately, this whole project has been wonky in terms of scheduling, due in large part to utility conflicts and weather.
Since those issues have resolved, we've been working with Texas Sterling to return appropriate resources to the project. They're out there working every day - just today we had crews working on the new westbound entrance ramp from Dominion Drive, set to open in August, and on the bridge over Leon Creek near Rudy's (set to reopen in October).
Our current projected completion date is the end of this year - which is, indeed, later than our earlier projection of September.