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Monday, October 2

Mail Bag: some quick questions on US 281

The amount of dirt and rock moving on the US 281 expansion north of Loop 1604 is impressive. I haven't noticed any changes to traffic signals or lane configurations, yet the south bound morning commute seems longer. I'm looking forward to improvements, but I'm curious about the intermediate changes.
What will be the first changes to the traffic pattern, e.g., Loop 1604 connectors, frontage roads? Thanks for keeping us informed.
- Tom

Pictures most often do the best explaining, so take a look at these step-by-step graphics as to how traffic is going to be shifted during the building process:

The current phase of work focuses on the new frontage roads and the early stages of the Loop 1604 direct connectors. Once that's done crews will re-establish the current superstreet configuration for use until we are almost ready to open overpasses.
When we get to phase two you'll see the main lanes totally rebuilt, the overpasses go up and the HOV lanes built.
When we're all done, it'll look like this:

What tree plantings (e.g., in medians, around interchanges) are included in the US 281 expansion north of 1604?
- David

We are actually not adding any trees along the corridor. Intersections will have colored and textured concrete with what we call our "hill country" aesthetics, which feature earth tones matching the natural landscape. (We actually have a guide for paint schemes that go with highways based on the neighborhood the project is in.)
We would love to incorporate more shrubbery, but then we would be faced with greater maintenance costs. The decision to omit trees in the design is pretty much an economic one.

In reviewing the 281 expansion plans I noticed there will be bike facilities. However, on the schematic I do not see any plans for dedicated bike lanes or bike paths. Will you please provide insight on any future plans for these bike facilities? It would amazing if I could safely ride my bike from Encino park to 1604 or stone oak.
- Brandon

In addition to the typical six-foot sidewalks along the frontage roads, the outside (far right) lane of the frontage roads will be a 14-foot "shared use" lane with a one-foot buffer. While these aren't dedicated bike lanes, these are designed to accommodate multimodal traffic and fit the standard used across the state.