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Wednesday, February 7

Mail Bag: revisiting old answers, Ralph Fair Road, Fair Oaks Pkwy and more

Great work keeping the blog updated and providing great information!
Two questions: in the last mailbag there was a question about I-35 at Walzem reducing down to three lanes in each direction then opening up to four lanes.
You wrote that it is supposed to be four lanes but it is still three lanes each direction; any idea when that is supposed to be complete? (I know the weather hasn’t cooperated).
Second; I read the post regarding stop lights and what it takes to install (namely cost) and have a new respect before ‘firing from the hip’ saying every intersection that causes me a few seconds of inconvenience needs one. However, there is one intersection that, I think, is overdue for another look — Foster Rd and FM 1346. I’ve seen eastbound traffic back up all the way where the two lanes merge into one. Any plans for a traffic light there in the near future? The four-way stop seems very outdated.
And a comment about the 35 project— it rocks! You guys kicked its [expletive]!
Thanks again for the great information and posts! The person that keeps this updated does a fantastic job!
- Todd
First of all, flattery will get you ... well, pretty much anything. Thanks so much! Sorry we had to edit your comment a bit. This is a family blog, after all!
To your first question ... we were fully wrong about I-35 being opened up earlier. We were operating on old information and got it wrong. Instead of opening in January, it actually opened up to the new capacity last week and you are (hopefully) enjoying that extra lane each direction. We learned from the experience and will add extra verification with guys in the field before posting things in the future.
As for the second question, the best we can do is put the location on our list to be studied. You're not the first to ask, and we did recently upgrade that intersection with flashing yellow lights. We have to go with the hard data, so we'll see what things look like once we've done a warrant study.


I’ve been noticing some closures overnight at the Scenic Loop and I-10 overpass in Boerne so crews can law pavement underneath. This is exit 543, not the Leon Springs overpass at Boerne Stage Road. I’m not sure if these are being posted under the “Boerne” or “Leon Springs” categories, but I haven’t seen these particular closures in the weekly posts. Am I missing something? I live by this particular overpass and the detours are pretty far out of the way if we can’t go under the freeway.
- Grant
These should actually be posted under "Other Roads - Boerne". Because it's actually Scenic Loop Road, not I-10, that's closed it goes under a bit of its own heading.
The detour for this one is pretty simple - simply head down to Balcones Creek, cross over and turn around, then come back. The whole thing is about three miles.


Regarding Gold Canyon Exit at 1604, thanks for the quick response.
This same setup occurs on eastbound 1604 at the exits for 281 north and south. Two normal lanes and an auxiliary lane. That auxiliary lane terminates with the exit for 281 South. However, prior to that termination there is an exit for 281 North. If this is an unsafe condition, why is it allowed for this area but not for Gold Canyon?
- Marshall
The two areas actually aren't the same at all. Here's a look at the Gold Canyon area you're asking about:
Note the auxiliary lane stretches less than half a mile (the orange line is the auxiliary lane) and encounters both an entrance ramp, with traffic trying to enter the highway and weave onto the main lanes, and an exit ramp, with traffic weaving off the highway. We've also got a bridge in the middle of everything, limiting what we can do here.
Now, here's a look at eastbound Loop 1604:
You'll have to click on this one to blow it up a bit, it's not the same scale. Why? Because it's a significantly longer stretch of roadway we're trying to fit in the same column width in the blog. The auxiliary lane to which you're referring is well over a half-mile - and it doesn't feature the conflict of entering and exiting traffic. It's also lacking that pesky bridge in the middle.
If we were to stretch it out to capture the conflict of entering traffic with these two exit ramps, by the way, the stretch would be nearly a full mile.
Remember, that Gold Canyon area is well under a half-mile. The distance between these two exit ramps alone is more than what you've got at Gold Canyon.
That's why the situation you see on eastbound Loop 1604 approaching US 281 is safe and an extra ramp on westbound Loop 1604 near Gold Canyon would not be.


My wife and I think a 'fly over' from Ralph Fair to (eastbound) I-10 and from (westbound) I-10 to Ralph Fair would increase the functionality of both roadways. I know it would be expensive but sooner would be cheaper than later. This is going to have to be addressed due to the population explosion in eastern Kendall County. Is anything like that in the works? Thank you.
- Marcial

One thing you're not seeing (yet) is the huge benefit that new intersection at Old Fredericksburg Road will be to the intersection at Ralph Fair Road. All those folks in that new development along Old Fred Road that's now pushing through the Ralph Fair intersection will be removed from the traffic equation completely.
Just hang tight a few more months, you'll see what's happening and you'll be glad we didn't go in with a direct connector and it's quarter-billion-dollar price tag. Everything we've had going the last few years has been part of an overall plan to address the growth, and we're just about finished.
For the record ... no, we don't have one planned at this location, either. It's doubtful we'll ever get to that sort of situation. Frankly, we need direct connectors at Loop 1604 and I-10 or at Loop 1604 and I-35 first.


It is encouraging to see the progress on I-10 north of 1604. The progress seems to end at Dominion Drive however. What is the expected completion date of this interstate expansion and scope (distance) to be included?
- Dugald
We're glad we're encouraging! The expansion will add two lanes in each direction between La Cantera Parkway and Ralph Fair Road. We're scheduled to finish around the end of 2020. You'll see a new lane in each direction ready to use in 2019, though.


Please add me to your email list for traffic updates.
- Tami
We actually don't keep an email list. Your best bet is to subscribe to email alerts on our blog, which can be done by entering your email in the subscription bar on the left, and you'll get notices every time we post something.


Can you send me a picture of what the intersection at Fair Oaks parkway and I-10 will look like when completed.
- Chuck
All of that is posted online, Chuck. Take a look here.


What is going on with UTSA Blvd near UTEX Blvd? The expansion project from three lanes to five lanes looked complete in the Fall. Then after a few weeks, crews tore up the new surface for half of the new lanes for what looked like drainage work. It's been like that for about three months now with very little activity. This back-to-one-lane-each-way thing is frustrating after getting to use the expanded lanes.
- John
You're one of a growing list of folks asking us, John. We'll tell you what we told the others: that's all part of a private commercial development and they're moving around some utility stuff. We are pretty sure all the work is being done for Security Services FCU, who is developing that whole area along the road heading toward I-10.
We don't have any real oversight with them; as long as the traffic control is set up in line with standards in our Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (it is), they're fine to be out there and we have no tools available to spur them along.
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