Wednesday, August 23

Mail bag: I-35 SAMMC, Loop 1604 expansion, project starts

I just wanted to write in to thank you all for the new northbound 35 Rittiman exit. I think this new configuration is profoundly changing lives because of the new configuration. All of the inconsiderate jockeying that used to occur within the short confines of the old exit is now gone. No longer will traffic back up onto the highway, thus slowing down 35N, and everyone can choose their desired lanes far in advance of the intersection. I can't wait to see those auxiliary lanes finished to clear up the 410/35N bottleneck. Hats off to TxDOT and Lane Construction.
- Marshall

Thanks, Marshall! We have passed along the kudos to our field staff. They rarely get to hear kind words like these, and it means quite a lot to them! Since you wrote in, of course, we finished up those northbound I-410 lanes to northbound I-35 and are glad to see the positive impacts already being felt. We are on pace to knock the entire project out by the end of 2017.

I am curious on the start date of the I-10 expansion from 1604 to Ralph Fair. Your last update on this project said it would start Aug-Sept of this year. Is it still on schedule to start that soon?
- Robert

We are working on a full post for this project's kickoff ... so let's consider this your spoiler. (That means you shouldn't read the rest of this sentence unless you really want to know....) Our official start date is slated for September 5. We are planning a ceremonial groundbreaking the following week. More details are coming.

I have traveled between I-35 and 1604 daily for 10 years. I watch in dismay every time more land is cleared to build another building or apartment complex that will add additional cars on 1604. Have you ever considered adding a new lane by restriping the road? We don't need a shoulder on both sides, and by restriping you could add an another lane (even over bridges). I've studied it for years. The 281 cluster is miserable going eastbound.
- Linda

You know, our communications folks thought the same thing when they started working and had a very similar conversation with our engineers when first hired. We all wish the solve would be so simple.
Let's first address the need for those shoulders on both sides. Shoulders are a safety feature on expressways and are placed on both sides of a highway where possible. Without these shoulders speed limits could be reduced per our speed limits standards. Shoulders also provide a shelter for cars with mechanical troubles or that have been involved in a traffic collision. It's true we don't have dual shoulders lining each expressway, but that is certainly the standard we aspire to. We are not interested in eliminating that safety feature where it's firmly established.
Even if we could restripe the road to add the lane we would still need the clearance through the Federal Highway Administration. This approval is often referred to as environmental clearance. Our needs on Loop 1604 are way beyond what a simple restriping would provide anyway - and that's why the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has the expansion of this heavily trafficked road on our statewide Unified Transportation Program. Any time a road is at 130 percent capacity right now we need to make an adjustment. The bottom line, Linda, is we are working hard at making the needed improvements. The proposed project will cost about $550 million to make happen. After all, if we're going to do it we want to make sure it's done right the first time.

What is the current status and upcoming schedule for the reconstruction of the bridge over I-35 at 1103 in Schertz? Local taxpayers helped fund this back in 2014 and 2015 and I would like to see that work actually begin.
- Jeff

Jeff asked this question just before we posted our announcement of the project starting a couple of weeks ago. Others should take a look at the post to see we will start September 5.

I have only lived here 3 years but found that many times there are signs saying "lane closed ahead", I move to the open lane and then find that the "closed" lane really isn't. If the lane isn't closed why can't the construction people cover the sign or lay it down or pick it up...whatever. I'm finding the signs hard to believe as I'm sure other people don't believe them either.
- Sharon

We're sorry to hear of your experience, Sharon. We work hard to ensure such signs, when not in use, are picked up from state-maintained highways. We also work with our agency partners who also do road work, like the city of San Antonio and a variety of utility companies, to make sure they are reaching for the same standard.

Thank you for the informative post on the Cibolo Parkway project. One line caught my attention: "What we have in mind is a $25 million expansion that will make FM 1103 a four-lane road with center medians, sidewalks and shoulders allowing for safe bike riding." Does this imply that there will not be official bike lanes on FM 1103?
That is not what was understood from public information meetings, etc. This is an important bike thoroughfare that connects many residential neighborhoods to businesses and schools. It is used even in its current configuration (albeit risky) by bicyclists young and old. I know Schertz would even prefer to see a multi-use path along FM 1103 according to its Master Thoroughfare Plan. Just hoping to clarify that we will indeed see bike lanes on FM 1103! Thanks.
- John

We agree with you about the importance of including bike lanes in our capital improvement projects. It's our policy to include accommodations for such facilities. That's most often done by including widened shoulders - typically four or more feet wide - that serve bicycle traffic safely as well. The primary purpose of these lanes is, indeed, for bike traffic.

Can you provide the details of the traffic switch that is being advertised on the 13th of August, for FM471 between Old FM471 & 1560.
- Benjamin
Regarding the construction along 471 aka Culebra: how long will the entrance to Stillwater Ranch be closed? Hoping to see it open before school starts. Thanks!
- Terri

We do not have information on this project. It is being overseen by Bexar County Public Works