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Monday, February 13

Mail Bag: Bandera Rd intersection, UTSA Boulevard

Please make your formal presentation available on your blog regarding the displaced left turn at Bandera road. The video doesn't really explain what we can expect to happen. I'm particularly interested in what impact it will have on 1604. I saw traffic lights on the video and the last thing we need is lights on 1604!
- Mike

The video to which you referred was a representative video of the basic concept of what we're doing, and was linked in our previous post on this topic. Let's be clear, Mike, for you and for your neighbors: we are not adding a traffic signal to the main lanes of Loop 1604. We're spending (literally) hundreds of millions of dollars to build overpasses. Adding a signal at the heart of where traffic congestion on Lp 1604 is the worst would be, well, a qualifier as the worst idea ever. We know that, which is why we wouldn't ever do that.
What is not the worst idea ever is looking at intersections like Bandera Road and Loop 1604 for new traffic innovations. These intersections are prime candidates for intersection designs we're seeing pop up across the country, like the diverging diamond intersection (or DDI, already used by North Carolina, Washington, Missouri, Utah, Florida and Michigan, and now used in Texas up in Round Rock).
Right now, though, we're looking at a displaced left turn intersection, or a DLT. These come with a ton of minor variations, as the FHWA shows. The major difference between a DDI and a DLT is in the number of lanes being diverted and removed from the equation of the intersection. With the DDI all lanes of the primary road are being diverted. With the DLT, we're only moving the left-turn lanes around. To be clear, in this application we're talking about Bandera Road as it crosses through the Lp 1604 frontage road intersections. We are not messing with the Lp 1604 main lanes. Here's a look from that presentation:

By the way, we've got a DLT just like the one we're talking about for Bandera Road working up in San Marcos. To your request, Mike, here's the full presentation for you. Let us know if you have further questions!

How about an update on Spur 53 expansion?
- Zane

It's probably easiest to cut right to the point: we're on pace to wrap up this summer. That's summer 2017, for those who like when we get super specific. It's also right on par with the anticipated completion date we had when we started out, so that's good.
Our section goes from I-10 to Ximenes, so the city's segment may still be working after we're finished. For now on our end we've got some concrete work remaining, and the last major thing we'll be doing is a final asphalt surface. When you see that happening you'll know we're knocking on the door of that completion date.

I’m new to San Antonio (from California) and have a challenging time figuring out the roads here. As I drive to appointments it is very frustrating when approaching an intersection not being able to find a sign identifying the cross street name. In California, when approaching an intersection, especially where there is a traffic signal, there is usually a cross street name sign located in the middle island at least 500 feet prior to reaching the intersection. Secondly, I live in the Alamo Ranch area and concerned about the Alamo Ranch Parkway (ARP) off-ramp from Westbound 1604. There is not enough road to first merge into the frontage road travel lanes, then cross over the multiple lanes of traffic to make a very hard right turn onto ARP. When drivers are bombing up the frontage road from Culebra it is extremely dangerous to cross-over and make a safe right turn. Why is there not a dedicated fly-over from 1604 to ALR?
Sorry, frontage roads are dangerous and this is coming from someone who has safely driven in Los Angeles for many years.
- Joan

Hi, Joan. Welcome to Texas! You're among the 1,000 people who move to Texas every day ... a trend that's continued for more than half a decade. You seem to have brought up three separate issues, so let's dig in.
We have cross street signs posted at each major intersection. These are often on the signal mast arms or span wires. Keep in mind we only control state-maintained roads. City roads may be a little different, though generally they follow the same pattern we do. The way this is set out is dictated in part by our Texas Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which can be read in its entirety here.
We do have some advanced-warning signs of major cross-streets along our highway frontage roads, and at times along our arterials. This isn't done for every cross street, but is typically reserved for major intersections. We try to minimize the number of signs out there to manage the risk of information overload. We've found drivers start tuning out signs when there are too many.
As for the frontage roads ... they're a distinctly Texas thing, aren't they? They take some doing to get used to, but if you remember to merge onto them the way you do an expressway you'll be fine. Most folks are pretty good about yielding right-of-way (where appropriate) to the exiting traffic, or letting you find a good merge point when you've got your own auxiliary lane coming off the expressway.
That Alamo Ranch Parkway question is multi-faceted, though. Adding a direct connector, besides costing a ton of extra money we don't have (those things are like $75 million apiece right now!), would have complicated an already frustrating situation at the intersection of ARP and Westwood Loop. Exiting Loop 1604 to get there isn't all that rough, though. The frontage road speed limit is 45 miles per hour, and you've got nearly a half-mile between that ramp and the ARP turnoff, and that far-right lane of the frontage road is a turn-only lane onto ARP.

A note about Hwy 151, Alamo Ranch Pkwy and Westwood Loop. I know you are in the process of adding a light and have installed a barrier so there are no right turns from 151 to Westwood Loop, people are still making that right turn in front of the cars from 1604 lanes almost causing an accident. I saw two cars in a row do that. You need a sign on the light to state NO RIGHT TURN from the 151 lanes. People nowadays have no common sense or know traffic laws.
- Jackie
Thank you for working the issues at ARP & Westwood Lp. Now that the paddles are up, another more dangerous issue is occurring. Every third driver coming off 151 into AR is still turning despite the paddles, crossing in front of drivers in the straight lane. Dangerous collisions almost occur daily! Can you get a Sheriff to issue tickets? Something needs to be done! Thank you.
- Roger 

Jackie and Roger, your neighbor Carolyn also wrote in with this issue. Several others have reached out via Twitter. Some have understood the real problem is the driver behavior - which is absolutely the worst reflection on our great city. Others have tried to remove the shared responsibility by blaming roadway designers for causing these terrible drivers to make poor choices and violate laws. Such an approach is absolutely flabbergasting, but we'll leave that issue alone.
The signals are being built by Bexar County Public Works. We understand the county's contractor will be putting up lane designation signs as they get that project finished. We've also been working with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office to improve enforcement. It's ridiculous the delineators haven't solved this issue, and flabbergasting to our staff the way drivers have treated this intersection. Hopefully, despite the selfishness and impatience of drivers like the ones you're seeing (folks like the those driving this white car photographed by Kimberley's passenger this weekend), signs and signals and enforcement will help curb this issue once and for all.

What are they doing on Potranco by Granite Cliff and Seascape? I see cones everywhere but no activity. They even closed off middle lane to merge. Help!

You should be seeing regular activity, daily activity. If not we'll be yelling at someone something fierce! The short answer to this question: we're adding a center concrete median barrier. In short, we're doing on Potranco what we've already done on Culebra Road between Lp 1604 and Tezel Road.

Braun Road is currently closed between Tezel Road and Old Tezel Road. How long will the road be closed? When should construction finish?

Great questions. Frankly, we don't have an answer - Braun Road is a city road and we don't monitor the progress of development there. Call the folks with San Antonio TCI and they should be able to help you.

What is the bridge that is going up on I-10 and Buckskin Dr going to be for?
- Tereri 

We're adding a new overpass! Here's some more information on the overall project, and a post about the project as it got started.

Can you please have someone observing for potholes caused by the big trucks and have them filled.
- Jennifer 

We're committed to addressing pavement failures as soon as we're aware of them; we do not, however, employ folks to drive around looking for potholes. We simply don't think that would be a wise way to spend your tax money - we can find more productive things for our staff members to do. If you have specific locations for potholes, let us know and we'll have our folks go check them out immediately.