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Monday, March 6

I-10 at Leon Springs is almost done....

Morning traffic in Leon Springs this morning was, well, slow.
We got your emails, calls, tweets and online submissions - all of them. Rather than respond individually (we don't have the personnel or the time to do that), we're hoping you'll circulate this post to let folks know what's going on. Rather than circulate email addresses and coordinate a cut-copy-paste form email complaint via your NextDoor or Facebook pages we ask you post this. We want you to know you've been heard, but we also want you to know we have answers. This post should address each of the major questions you're asking.

What happened
Late last week Texas Sterling Construction opened a new eastbound entrance ramp to I-10 from Boerne Stage Road. With the new on-ramp, located near the 10 West commercial development, crews are working to convert the old on-ramp into a new exit ramp for Dominion Drive.
This is the schematic we presented on this project before it began.
While our folks are building that new exit ramp we'll have the left lane of the frontage road closed near the HEB. We'll also keep the new west-to-east turnaround closed to minimize traffic conflicts with the reduced frontage road. This closure will last until the new ramp is ready to reopen, which should be around the end of the month.

Without the closure as it now is, you'd essentially have three lanes on the frontage road coming from Boerne Stage Road merging to a single lane in a very short distance. That simply doesn't make much good sense. What we have now allows for two lanes to merge to one by time traffic reaches the work area. That frontage road at the work area - that is, the area we're building the new exit ramp - has to be limited to a single lane to provide a safe work area while crews are tying in the new ramp to the existing frontage road.
To the credit of Texas Sterling Construction, most of the structural work to build this ramp has already been done. The process to get the ramp finished and opened should be relatively quick - right now we're planning to have that ramp opened up (and the frontage road lanes with it) by the end of March.

Read that again, please
Let us reiterate: we should have traffic in its final configuration by the end of March. Twenty-seventeen, just for those of you who question what year we'll be done. Though it's pretty wet this week we should be able to have traffic where it should be project-wide.
Unimpressed? We get it - this project has been going on for a while. It's been compounded for those who have survived the work at Ralph Fair Road and the work on Boerne Stage Road, in addition to another couple of smaller municipal projects in the area. If you live in Leon Springs or along Boerne Stage Road, you've likely been battling construction zones for the better part of the last five years.
We're telling you it's almost over - literally a few weeks away. At least, until we get to work on those new main lanes set to get built starting this year. But that's another post altogether.

Why no post in advance?
Honestly, there's little to excuse on this. Our communications staff knew this would be coming, but has been tied up doing some other stuff. That's no helpful, and it's not a valid reason to fail to have a post like this out before the traffic changes.
It may be a lot too little too late, but we apologize. We'll work to do better. As an agency, we've been tasked by the governor to do more with less - clearly that didn't happen here. We will figure it out and make it happen.
We do credit our project staff, however: they had notification of the change posted with digital message board prior to all this shaking up.

Can something be done to provide immediate relief?
This is a loaded question. The good news: this is very temporary. As we've reiterated above, the situation will only last through this month. With one week of that being Spring Break, we're hoping the traffic impact is kept as small as can be.
Can we open up an extra lane, though? No. That we can't do. The lane restrictions we've got in place today are necessary to complete the project safely, and that's what we're aiming to do.

What about signal timing?
We are working with folks from the city of San Antonio's Traffic and Capital Improvements section - they are the group that handles signal timing at this location. We're making sure the signals are adjusted to allow the best traffic flow possible during these next few weeks.

An officer could help by directing traffic...
We'd like to thank everyone who suggested this. We're not sure how much it will help, but you should see an officer on location in the morning and through the rest of this week. We'll evaluate Friday how much of a help this has actually been.
The biggest issue we're seeing is people who aren't making appropriate turns. Lane-to-lane changes are absolutely critical to making this area operate at the highest efficiency, and if that's not happening the whole thing falls apart. If that sounds a little like we're trying to share the responsibility for an efficient transportation system with you, the driver ... well, then the point has been made.
Once the lane-to-lane turn (which is taught in literally every drivers education class in the country) is made, drivers will need to employ the zipper merge to continue a good flow of traffic. These aren't advanced traffic maneuvers here, and our engineers assume drivers will be able to safely perform these basic maneuvers when they set up a traffic control plan.
Why discuss this now? Because the point of the officer on site in the morning will be to make sure traffic is doing this - the lane-to-lane movement, the zipper merge, all of it. They'll also make sure you're not blocking the intersection by trying to squeeze in before the red light.
If you're in the intersection and stopped when the light turns red, you're doing it wrong.

It's unbearable/dangerous/painful/horrible/killing us
Typical traffic during peak hours in other US locations....
We've heard other superlatives about this as well, but that heading just about sums it up. If it can be said, it's being said. This is, after all, the trafficopalypse of Leon Springs.
And no, we're not making light of it. We're simply trying to let you know we get it.
To the point of safety, we'll reiterate the situation is not dangerous. Were there frustrating delays this morning? Most definitely. Our field staff were on site observing what was happening and are making appropriate adjustments (see above). But a dangerous situation? No - that's not created by this. It's created by impatient drivers who make poor choices. Again, we're talking about shared responsibility here. We are owning the fact it's frustrating. We're also asking the drivers to own the fact they create the hazardous situation.
Did TxDOT crews force those cars to drive along the median to skip by traffic? Nope. Did TxDOT crews direct traffic onto parking lots, cutting through properties? Not one bit. We don't make those choices. To suggest we do strips the responsibility of safe driving from the drivers themselves, and is faulty logic.
Again, we're owning that the frustration of traffic delays is on us. We own that we didn't get proper notice out. We are working on a fix. We are trying to finish construction and we've whittled away the capacity of a roadway. For a three-hour period of time during the day it's pretty rough going, and we absolutely believe assertions of ludicrously long commute times. We're trying to solve that while maintaining the integrity of our safe work zone.
We simply need drivers to own their own behavior while we're at it.

Notes for those who are late
An odd request we got from more than a couple of folks is to provide a written note for kiddos late for school because of the traffic mess.
We're not sure we have the authority to do this, but we hope this blog post will help explain the situation for a day or two. We believe that, like other traffic situations like this, things will improve within a few days as folks get used to the traffic situation. The weather isn't helping much this week, either, and traffic generally flows a little easier when the road is dry.
However, if you need a late note for your teacher or boss and if this page works, feel free to use it. Don't have your boss or teacher call us, please - that's overkill. Just give them the link to this blog post and let it speak for itself.