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Monday, March 12

Mail Bag: A whole lot of I-10 stuff, FM 1103 at I-35, US 281 at the Guadalupe River

I'm curious about some of the project dates on this web site. On the Upcoming Projects page, the project to build the bridge over I-10 at Balcones Creek Road and convert the frontage roads to one-way between Fair Oaks Parkway and the Bexar-Kendall county line is scheduled to start in 2018. The project to expand the US 87 and TX 46 bridges over I-10 and convert the frontage roads to one-way between Scenic Loop Road and TX 46 is also scheduled to start in 2018.
However, the project to convert the frontage roads to one-way between Scenic Loop Road and the Bexar-Kendall county line is shown as starting in 2026. Is that a mistake, or will the other projects actually take 8 years to complete before this project is required?
Also, can you share an estimated completion date for the Fair Oaks Parkway bridge over I-10?
- Lee

Those dates are drawn from our project tracker, which pulls from our Unified Transportation Program. The UTP is updated every year and gives a comprehensive look at our 5- and 10-year plans. The middle segment, between Scenic Loop Road and the Bexar-Kendall county line, is placed last on the list of segments to be finished for one-way frontage roads conversion due to budgeting constraints. We'll start before 2026 if we can secure the funds to do so.
Each of those projects, which will often move forward concurrently, will take about three years to finish (that's a generic time range for reference; each project has its own timeframe).
As for the completion of the Fair Oaks Parkway bridge over I-10, RELMCo Inc. is on pace to have that wrapped up this summer. That's summer 2018. As in just a few months from now.

First of all, thanks for the great work you do with the mailbag. It’s always a fun - and informative - read!
I’ve been curious about the use of panels on Wurzbach Parkway over Blanco Road. These are the green wall-like structures that prevent drivers on Wurzbach Pkwy from looking down onto Blanco. To put it simply: what purpose do they serve?
Similar overpasses of the Parkway over West Ave., Jones Maltsberger, Nacogdoches, and Perrin-Beitel don’t have these panels. What’s special about Blanco?
- Juan

First of all, thank you and you're welcome!
Those panels are visual barriers, preventing the headlights of evening drivers from peering into apartment windows immediately adjacent to Wurzbach Parkway right there. It also maintains some semblance of privacy for the residents. You should find similar visual barriers along the eastbound lanes of Wurzbach Parkway over Perrin-Beitel.
While there is an apartment complex at the corner of West Avenue and Wurzbach, it is set far enough back from the highway and is separated from the parkway with a strip of trees. These natural barriers eliminate the need for the visual barrier panels you're seeing at Blanco.

Who is responsible for the timing of the signals on Hausman at 1604? In both directions the signal on the near side of 1604 turns green at the same time as the signal on the far side.
- Jim

Those signals are timed by the city of San Antonio. We'll reach out to our friends there to ask they take a look at the issue.

Thank you for the post about speed limits on I-10. I think I am the only one driving 60 mph and cars ride my bumper and pass me like crazy. Please add more speed limit signs and the LED reader boards. Thank you.
- Beth

We're happy to do what we can to improve the safety along any highway corridor. We'll take a look at this and other corridors and see if there are any additional signs we can add to improve awareness of the speed limits. That said, what typically helps the most in this area is enforcement of the speed limit, which we understand will be increasing as work continues to move forward.

With the bridge replacement project on I-35 at FM 1103, we know that the turn around lanes have been added to the original project. The last we had heard the move of the exits IS NOT included on this project. The northbound 35 exit to 1103 is already too close to 1103 and adding the turnaround lane will compound that issue. Have the plans changed to address the exits or what will it take to prevent the inevitable crashes that will happen frequently on a short exit with turnaround lanes?
- Jeff

The turnarounds were included with the project when it bid and were part of the actual design of the project. They may not have been part of the package presented in public meetings but were certainly part of the plans when we got bids from contractors.
The distance between the end of the ramp and the start of the intersection, heading north, is about 600 feet. We actually have design standards giving us the desired distance at an intersection like this. The total volume of the frontage road and the ramp is less than 2,500 vehicles per hour. The total traffic volume of FM 1103 at this location is just a shave higher than 750 vehicles per hour. We have three or more lanes for traffic to weave between the ramp and the intersection.
As you can see, Table 3-16 shows we like to have at least 460 feet between the end of the ramp and the intersection at a location like this. We have about 600 feet, exceeding by more than 30 percent the design requirements for an approach like this.
Knowing we've exceeded the design criteria as we have, we are confident this location will continue to be a safe intersection enjoyed by all.

Is there any plan to go back between Huebner and DeZavala to add an entrance to I-10 west? The only entrance that is left is very dangerous with all the traffic from the Huebner area merging with the Fredericksburg road traffic to merge to get onto I-10 west then merge with all the traffic getting off at UTSA Blvd.
- Max

The short answer here, Max, is no. The distances involved out there are beyond adequate to handle what we've got, and since we've had the current configuration in place (it's been a few years) we've seen no crash data to suggest any real hazard. It's actually in line with the standard used across the country. Adding another entrance to westbound I-10 would be redundant and actually create hazards.
If you don't remember the way the road was configured prior to the project in 2012 that built I-10 between Huebner and Lp 1604 as you know it today, we actually had two on ramps from Huebner Road. We eliminated one as a way to improve safety, and that safety enhancing configuration is the one you're seeing today.

I am still wondering about the I-10 project from Ralph Fair to fair oaks Ranch. According to the info provided at the open house the schedule for this project was:
  • Begin Construction ― I-10 improvements (frontage road conversion, ramp reversals, and Old Fredericksburg Rd / Buckskin Dr overpass): Fall of 2015
  • Fair Oaks Pkwy Bridge: Fall of 2016
  • Construction time ― I-10 improvements: Approximately 2 Years
  • Construction time ― Fair Oaks Pkwy Bridge: Approximately 1 Year
That indicates that the I-10 improvements was to run from Fall 2015 2 years to Fall 2017. It is now early Spring 2018 and this project is several months from being done. It appears to me the contractor under-resourced this project from the start.
What happened? Weather can not be blamed for all this delay. What is a realistic completion date now?

Bob, we're glad you asked. First off, timetables given at those open house meetings are based on best engineering guesses with the plans not fully fleshed out. When you got these dates we didn't have full plan sheets drawn out and the target timeframes were goals to be met.
We began work on the I-10 improvements late March 2016 - a six-month delay from our intended start date due to some utility conflicts in the area - with a timeline of just over two years. We still have a few months from time expiring on the contract. If work isn't complete at that point we'll charge liquidated damages for each day the project continues beyond the contracted completion date. While we don't decide for the contractor the resources they ought to commit to a project, the consequence at the end of the job is, essentially, the contractor working for free (which is bad business for any private business).
By the way, the Fair Oaks Parkway bridge project began early 2017 with an 18-month schedule. We are currently on track to finish before the end of the school year, which is actually a bit ahead of the contract requirement.
One last thing: You'll recall in the open house we discussed totally closing the bridge and having it built in one piece to meet that construction timeline of a year. That plan was scrapped at the behest of those attending the open house who didn't like the idea of eliminating access to the bridge long-term. We were clear at the time the requested construction process would about double the duration of the project.

What is the estimated time to completion for the work at US 281 and the Guadalupe river? Also, what is being done? Thanks.
- John

This is a project that's really run under the radar, despite being a fairly major project up in Comal County. Thanks for bringing it out for us, John.
We are updating the southbound bridge deck over the Guadalupe River. That means a new bridge deck, new bridge rail (replacing the steel barrier with concrete barrier), cleaning up the bridge structure and the like. We've also recently added some pavement repair to the scope of work on the project.
All told work should be finished next summer (that is, Summer 2019). Between now and then you'll see a variety of traffic shifts. As those happen we'll do our best to get them posted here.