Monday, May 11

Tons of stuff on the Lp 1604 NW expansion....

Plenty of activity on the city's far northwest side along Loop 1604 between Bandera and Culebra roads. Portable changeable message boards have been announcing closures on some of the side streets. Here's a look at what's going on:


Last week you saw occasional closures of a single lane on Shaenfield Road to prepare for more major work fitting the intersection to the new southbound frontage road that's being built on each side of Shaenfield. That work is ongoing and, if weather cooperates, should wrap up early this week. That means the next phase of work - which will require much larger closures and will disrupt even rush-hour traffic.

This week (originally scheduled for today, but that's been impacted slightly by weather) Williams Brothers will have Shaenfield narrowed to a single lane each direction so crews can reconstruct the roadway and work on the traffic signals. This work will be around-the-clock, more or less, with this closure set in place all week. While this is going on, traffic will be on one side of the road at a time - again, only one lane each way - to allow for total reconstruction of the intersection. Crews are also fitting the intersection for the new frontage road (which should open in a few short weeks).

New Guilbeau

Williams Brothers has been doing alternating closures of New Guilbeau Road over recent weeks while they build drain structures across the road. Those structures are now in place and we're nearly ready to go ahead and build the northbound frontage road across the New Guildbeau intersection. We're actually rebuilding the intersection and matching it to the frontage road with this work, which means we're pulling up some of the median as well as reconstructing the asphalt roadway.

This reconstruction work will require additional adjustments to the traffic signals in advance. We'll do our best to avoid peak traffic hours (defined on this project as 6-9 a.m and between 4-7 p.m.). Expect to see officers at the New Guilbeau intersection at times around the clock to control traffic, though these officers may be doing so through the traffic signal (we often have officers who hold a key to get into our signal control box, and they control traffic signals manually).

Late this week we should begin working on the New Guilbeau intersection in much the same way we'll be working on Shaenfield. Expect to see one lane in each direction at this intersection around-the-clock by the end of the week.

Bowens Crossing

Before work at New Guilbeau gets too active, we've got to build the new frontage road across Bowens Crossing. Yep, we've got to cross Bowens Crossing....

Work to construct the frontage road across Bowen's Crossing will happen the first part of the week, with one half of the road being closed at a time. Two-way traffic won't be possible during this work (there's only two lanes here, and we'll have one shut down at a time), so the traffic that's cut off will need to use New Guilbeau as an alternate route. We'll have message boards posted to alert traffic of the need for the alternate route.

Other locations

Bridge crews are wrapping up work on the Helotes Creek frontage road bridges so they can move to Braun Road. If work can be done in time, bridge support beams over Braun Road could be set later this month. The overpass bridge still wouldn't be in use until the end of the project, late 2016.

Setting those bridge beams means closing - completely - Braun Road at Loop 1604. There's no great detour route for traffic out there, and we know the biggest movement will be the eastbound movement headed to the northbound Loop 1604 lanes (like you're coming from FM 1560 and headed to Bandera Road). In order to do that, with the intersection closed, traffic will have to go all the way passed Shaenfield Road to turn around and head on your way. Tip: when we actually do this, consider using FM 1560 into Helotes, where you can reach Bandera Road and beyond - it'll be slow going, but it'll get you in the right direction as you're going.

Those coming from the Braun Heights area and headed south on Loop 1604 (like you're going to Sea World) will need only to go to Bandera Road and turn around. That's not too terrible a detour, but it's a detour nonetheless.

Because we know the impact will be so high, we're currently discussing the best approach to do this. We have considered a full-weekend closure, where most of the work is done on a Saturday and we use Sunday if necessary. We're also talking about doing this overnight during the week, which means some major adjustments to the way we'd hang the beams. Nothing is set in stone quite yet, and we're discussing options. We hope to have something firmed up later this week.

The next phase

To bring everyone to the same page, our next phase is coming up soon. Williams Brothers is targeting the end of this month to switch traffic over onto the frontage roads, which means traffic will be down to two lanes in each direction (three lanes in a few select locations) at just 45 miles per hour. Traffic turning left onto Shaenfield and New Guilbeau will need to use turnarounds to get to its destination, as no left turns will be happening at these locations in the next phase.

Just something to keep in mind as we get ready for the next phase. As we get closer, we'll post an image to show what the traffic movements will look like.