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Wednesday, July 27

New direct connector nearly ready

Thursday update: Williams Brothers has scheduled for the new direct connector to be opened Saturday afternoon (July 30).

This week's small storm may push this back a day or two, but Williams Brothers Construction is just about set to open the new southbound Loop 1604 connector to eastbound Hwy 151.
That's right. The new direct connector - the primary feature of the work at the intersection of Loop 1604 and Hwy 151 - is nearly ready to open (photos to come soon...). It could, in fact, be ready for use as early as Monday's morning commute.
That is, if weather allows.

What's left
Several small items remain to be finished up before the connector can open, but Williams Brothers crews are working around-the-clock to get this open. These are the same crews that managed to open the main lanes of Loop 1604 between Bandera and Culebra up at least six weeks early.
Still, for the curious, here's a list of notable items remaining:

  • Overhead highway sign support columns, particularly near the approach to the ramp along southbound Loop 1604
  • Installation of all appropriate highway signs
  • Completion of concrete barrier along the north face of the connector (requiring overnight closures of Loop 1604 announced earlier)
  • Asphalt tie-ins at both ends of the connector
  • Moving and removing barrier
Some of this work will require some closures that may disrupt weekend travels. If you're planning to be around Culebra or Hwy 151 this weekend, please plan on some delays.

How it'll impact you
For those using southbound Loop 1604 to reach eastbound Hwy 151, this will be a total game-changer. Your exit ramp will still be at about the same spot - the ramp will accommodate folks heading for either Hwy 151 or Alamo Ranch Parkway, as it does today - but you won't be stacked up on the frontage road or stuck waiting on a traffic signal.
That said, it is a single-lane ramp and folks will be driving it at reduced speeds. Don't expect to make the transition from Loop 1604 to Hwy 151 at a constant 60 miles per hour here. It should be a fluid flow, though.
For everyone else, your commute will be much different. Let us explain.
With the new connector in play Williams Brothers will be able to shut down the traffic signal at 1604 and 151. Expect to see concrete barriers set up to prevent its use altogether. This is permanent.
Traffic from Culebra or Alamo Ranch will need to head south on Loop 1604 to Wiseman, turn around, then get to Hwy 151 from northbound 1604. This adds a little more than two miles to your drive.
You won't be competing with traffic from southbound Loop 1604, though. And this isn't a permanent arrangement. As soon as the new overpass is open Alamo Ranch Parkway will be connected to Hwy 151. More on that in a moment.
By the way, if you're one who heads south on Loop 1604 through Hwy 151 you won't have any traffic signals until you reach Wiseman. 

The overpass
The final visible feature of this project will be completed by the end of this year. Williams Brothers Construction has until early the first quarter of 2017 to finish the project. They're likely to finish a little early, though, allowing their resources to move to other projects (like the 151-410 connectors they're building for us).
Expect the biggest flurry of activity for the upcoming few months to be right there on Alamo Ranch Parkway itself. With the existing lanes of the parkway moved to allow for the new overpass approach, you should see crews working hard to build walls and the man-made hill that leads into the overpass.