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Monday, January 9

Mail Bag: Loop 1604 between Wiseman and US 90; No trucks in left lane; lane-splitting

Your photo/drawing of the bridge construction at Fair Oaks Parkway:
You show the existing westbound exit to FOP being obliterated, but I didn't see any replacement for it. Where will it be, or will we have to exit clear back at Ralph Fair? Also, it would have been helpful if the westbound turnaround to I-10 east had been done before the bridge to minimize the delays caused by westbound turnaround traffic to I-10 east.
- Al
Al, you wrote us twice and we sincerely apologize for taking this long to respond here. To answer your question, take a look again at the schematic we've got for all the work going on out there. You'll see on the westbound side the exit to FOP immediately after the new overpass at Old Fredericksburg Road. You'll also see the new on-ramp located just across the highway from the new westbound exit.
As for the construction timeline ... the work at the Fair Oaks Parkway bridge is concurrent with that along the frontage roads. We're actually doing what you're suggesting (thanks to input during the open house meetings held on these jobs). We won't convert the frontage roads between Ralph Fair and Old Fred to one-way until the overpass at Old Fred is finished with a functional intersection in place at that location. Similarly, we're holding off on converting the frontage road between Old Fred and Fair Oaks as long as we can and should be able to time it right with the completion of the turnaround bridge (at the least), if not the full bridge.
Hope that helps!

For those that live right outside of Loop 1604 on the west side north of U.S. 90, I would like to set a formal complaint.
The road to 90 every morning is beyond dispicable, and the intersection at 1604 and Potranco is unneccesseraly backed up, some times to the light at Emory Peak. I understand Potranco is getting work done, but nothing is being done to alleviate the looooong lines for the current residents have to deal with on a daily basis. Its not worth the 6 min drive to HEB because it ends up taking 20 min one way, and the even longer because Potranco traffic moves even slower. What are you, or can you be doing to eleviate our strife?
- Mark
Mark, it seems you've got a few different issues going on, so we'll try to address them each one-at-a-time. We'll start with the work on Potranco itself - which is work administered by Bexar County Public Works. We've kept in touch with them and they're doing a heck of a job at maintaining access and traffic flow through that corridor.
Seems you're getting traffic back-up on northbound and southbound Loop 1604 as you're commuting to and from work. While the road condition is far from despicable, the traffic volumes are certainly indicative of the explosive growth in residential development out where you're living. Three years ago county officials anecdotally discussed that region of Bexar County reaching population levels on par with the Waco metro area sometime in the next decade, so brace yourself for that.
How are we addressing the issue? We did just start a pair of expansion projects along Loop 1604, running from Hwy 151 through US Hwy 90. The one that will help you the most will wrap up by 2020 and features a direct connector from southbound Loop 1604 to eastbound US 90. Yes, that's a long time to wait before we're finished - building a road is a lot like recarpeting your house without removing furniture and maintaining complete use of the house. It's hard! We're doing what we can, though, and should have some incremental helps come for you along the way.

Why was the Wiseman exit from Loop 1604 towards Hwy 151 eliminated? Many neighborhoods utilize that exit as well as being an exit for the Christus Santa Rosa Westover Hills Hospital. Workers at the Wells Fargo Call Center and anyone working or attending Northwest Vista College would also use this exit. Now it is very inconvenient to reach these places coming from 1604.
- Vanessa
Great questions, Vanessa.
Traffic headed to the hospital can (and should) use the exit to Westover Hills - using the Wiseman exit would have taken you through a signal and created undue delays in an emergency situation. That traffic movement getting onto Hwy 151 and exiting for the hospital has been left as convenient as ever (if not more so).
Those heading to Wells Fargo or Northwest Vista will need to do so by heading to Wiseman on Loop 1604. We've timed this, and the change isn't really all that radical. The added distance from pre-construction conditions is about two miles and, at typical speeds, should add no more than about five extra minutes.
We'll point out, though, this route is considerably more safe and no longer requires drivers to slow down abruptly and cross competing lanes of traffic to reach the Wells Fargo campus, as so many were doing before we started construction.
As to your question about why an exit was eliminated? The Texas Highwayman addresses this better than we could, so we'll refer you to his comments on the matter.

Why is the speed limit on Loop 1604 between Bandera and Culebra roads 60 MPH while the north section of 1604 is set at 70 MPH? I figured once the construction of this section of 1604 was complete (thanks btw!) that the speed limit would be changed. But it hasn't. What is the reasoning behind this?
- Carol
First off, you're welcome!
The change is still coming. We asked our traffic operations engineer for a date, and his reply was "Soon".
The change requires a minute order through the Texas Transportation Commission, then is placed on a work order list. We're expediting the process as much as we can, but it does take a bit of time. We're encouraged by the "soon" response, though; he's usually right on point with items like this.

Hello! I follow the Go Ahead! San Antonio blog for all the road updates and I must say, it's really great! I have a question for you: do you think we'll ever see any sort of legislation regarding lane splitting, filtering, and sharing for motorcycles? If you live in San Antonio, you've probably noticed that in some areas, traffic has gotten bad! I won't lie to you, I often lane-split heading into town via I-10, and while the reactions of drivers can often be mixed, most are usually accepting, and some even make extra room. I'd love to hear your thoughts, and maybe even reactions if you discuss on your blog. Thanks in advance!
- Nicholas
Thanks for following us! And thanks for the question - though we're sure you're not going to like what we have to say very much. It's a great topic to cover, though, and we might take this up on a bigger post later.
First of all, as a state agency we cannot advocate for or against any legislative measure. We want to be clear anything we say here is not intended to endorse any side of any legislation.
Information regarding the legality of lane-splitting in Texas is available at this legal blog (link does not imply endorsement of the law firm).
The super-short version: lane-splitting is not legal in the state of Texas right now. A measure was introduced during the 2015 Texas Legislative Session that would have added provisions to allow the practice, but the measure didn't get a vote on the floor. No word on whether such a measure will be introduced during this session.
As for our take? Any time you're breaking that lane and creating a potential conflict point, you've got a dangerous situation on your hands. Frustrating the issue are riders like this, who opt to lane-split at ridiculously high  rates of speed.
We're working hard with motorcycle advocacy groups to improve safety for motorcyclists state-wide, particularly with our Look Twice campaign. We'll spare you the gory statistics right now, but more than 10 percent of highway fatalities in our state were motorcyclists in 2015. That's more than a bit disproportionate, and creating a situation where a motorcycle can suddenly come from out of "nowhere" by lane-splitting only serves to hinder those driving in big ol' cages from seeing you when you're out there.
Our thoughts: lane-splitting, as it's done typically, is not a safe practice on our highways. We'll dig deeper into the situation for you, though, and see if we can come up with something more concrete than a "we don't like it" answer for you in the future. Deal?

Are commercial buses considered "trucks", in reference to "NO TRUCKS LEFT LANE"? I was under the impression that it was three axles or greater, which would include the aforementioned buses. I see many of the trans-national buses travel (often-times for miles) in the left lane of I-35 between Austin and San Antonio.
- Mark
Before we get into the weeds of what constitutes a "truck", we'll point out that, state-wide, the left lane is for passing only and those who impede traffic by cruising in the left lane are subject to a $200 fine. That's right, you can get a ticket for going too slow.
Our counterparts in our communication division have used the three-axle rule when discussing these signs before, but these are described with trucks - and the state's transportation code has a specific description for buses as well.
We're not attorneys here, so we'll have to dig deeper. As we've promised Nicholas, we'll put a pin in this for a larger post in the future.

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