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Friday, December 22

I-10 closures (yesterday)

First of all, we owe folks traveling along the northwest corridor of San Antonio a huge apology - we are sorry.
Yesterday (December 21) we had two small segments of westbound I-10 between Ralph Fair Road and Fair Oaks Parkway limited to a single lane and traffic was backed up significantly, causing reported delays of well over an hour. We'd like to explain ourselves a bit.

What we did
For the record, this is a
highway in Oklahoma
published by Equipment World
back in 2015; it is NOT
representative of our roads
in/around San Antonio.
The closures were for emergency repairs to the roadway. Recent wet weather opened a pothole near Ralph Fair Road and caused significant issues on I-10 Tuesday morning. Our guys got out there and created a temporary patch, but it was done during wet-weather conditions. We knew it wouldn't hold up through Christmas.
Yesterday was our opportunity to get in while the ground was dry and do something that would hold a bit better and we reduced significantly the odds of a safety hazard cropping up over Christmas and New Years.
We had another pothole open up near Fair Oaks Parkway we addressed with a long-term fix immediately.

Why we did it
Again, these repairs needed to be done immediately. Waiting wasn't an option; we tried that the first round with the pothole near Ralph Fair Road. That pothole was reported over the weekend and inspected Monday (December 18). We tried to hold off on repairing for a better time, and the pothole simply got worse and created bigger problems by Tuesday.
We simply had no choice but take care of the issue now and not try waiting until after the week of Christmas and New Year.

Why not at night
Asphalt work requires warmer temperatures, often above 60 degrees. We're not getting those warmer temperatures during the nighttime hours, so we had to get the work done during the day.
We know it stinks, and it's not a decision we take lightly at all. We actually have a moratorium on planned construction-related closures this week (and next), and we won't typically do a planned closure on the main lanes of a highway during a weekday anyway.
The point is this: it wasn't poor planning, but poor timing by Mother Nature.

Where we failed

Our communications staff failed to get notice out in a meaningful way. This is what we're apologizing for.
We have in the past been successful alerting folks to unfortunate closures like this. Our goal is simple: let folks know what's happening so they're not left wondering while they sit in traffic. When we got an email from a member of one of our own construction project teams working along I-10 asking why we had the backup we knew we dropped the ball pretty badly.
We should have posted alerts to Twitter and had a blog post explaining the closure. We know traditional media outlets - TV stations, newspaper and radio stations - pick up news bits from our Twitter feeds and our blog. We should have posted the closure to our Drive Texas online travel app. We should have coordinated messaging through our digital message boards operated by TransGuide.
We did none of these.
Travelers were left instead wondering the cause of the long delays near busy shopping centers and along major travel corridors.

What we've learned
The online assets we've used in the past are effective and should be used more consistently in the future - indeed, we will use more consistently in the future. Frankly, we know we can do better - we have done better in the past - and we will do so moving forward. Expect to see us post to Twitter with the hope it gets picked up by traditional media out lets. Expect to see something on our blog.
And if you're listening to satellite radio or your MP3 player, expect to see our digital message boards alerting drivers of the closure. Expect to see something like this on the Drive Texas app.