Over the next few years, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to eliminate red lights on Loop 1604 from Interstate 10 to FM 78 and add ramps, overpasses, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and U-turns at all crossroads.
Other changes include an elevated turnaround from the southbound main lanes to the northbound frontage road near Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, additional U-turns near the base and continuous frontage roads.
TxDOT also envisions reconfiguring the Lower Seguin Road intersection at 1604.
“The proposed TxDOT expansion of 1604 will greatly benefit and enhance the safe, expeditious flow of traffic within Converse and JBSA-Randolph,” said Converse Mayor Al Suarez.
If all goes as planned, TxDOT will have a public hearing in spring 2019, and receive environmental clearance in the summer.
The agency then will spend four years acquiring rights of way, relocating utilities, designing and engineering. Construction could start in fall 2023.
Randolph Metrocom residents learned about the preliminary plans during a recent open house at New Life Fellowship Church in Universal City.
TxDOT representatives said the project would enhance traffic flow and connectivity along 1604, in an area seeing more commercial and residential development.
Resident Danielle Wright frequently drives 1604 to visit her parents in St. Hedwig. She described stopping at all the traffic lights on the bustling roadway as “frustrating and occasionally terrifying.”
“Coming up on one turning yellow going 60 mph and making that quick decision of if I’m too far to make it or too close to stop stresses me out,” Wright said.
“I’m not looking forward to it being under construction again, though. I wish they’d have added the frontage when they expanded it to four lanes years ago,” she added.
Suarez said his city of an estimated 25,000 residents is undergoing significant development. Six new subdivisions are under construction, with expansion in another five existing neighborhoods.
Converse is also gradually enlarging its borders, absorbing some San Antonio and unincorporated Bexar County neighborhoods, including Camelot and The Glen.
“The timing of this project could not have come at a more opportunistic time in conjunction with the current explosive growth we are experiencing here in Converse,” he said. “This projected plan will also have a residential and economic impact on the city of Converse.”
According to TxDOT, average annual daily traffic on 1604 along JBSA-Randolph soared from 32,400 to 41,100 vehicles from 2015 to 2017.
Figures are projected to rise to 42,500 and 52,000 in 2020 and 2040, respectively, due to an expected increase of 1 million people in the greater San Antonio area.
The proposed improvements, TxDOT officials said, would save daily commuters 74 hours in travel time yearly on this stretch of 1604.
In order to accommodate the estimated $200 million project, the agency says it must acquire nearly 50 acres of right of way.
Resident Kristine Moriarty-Officer said it might be worth it in the long run. She drives 1604 from Toepperwein Road to I-10 almost every day.
“While I wouldn’t enjoy the construction, removing the (stoplights) would alleviate some of the traffic issues,” Moriarty-Officer said. “It would also be nice to give people a safe place to ride their bikes and walk safely.”
TxDOT is studying potential impacts of roadwork to the environment, historic landmarks, archeologically sensitive areas and more.
Universal City Mayor John Williams noted revamping 1604 from FM 78 to I-10 would be in addition to the upgrades already planned for the stretch of 1604 between Interstate 35 and 78.
The latter, a 30-month project, will include replacement of the Pat Booker Road/1604 overpass, and a sound barrier along 1604 to help protect Coronado Village neighbors from the noise of passing 18-wheelers.
“Any improvements to roadways are always welcomed,” Williams said.
Resident Jill Reed Sievers said the fixes are overdue.
“My husband drives from I-35 to Lower Seguin,” she said. “The traffic has gotten worse. The turn lane at Lower Seguin really backs up, which is dangerous. I come from the southern end up to Ware Seguin (Road). The red lights do really cause a hazard. I welcome any positive changes in traffic.”
More information can be found at the TxDOT San Antonio website, in the public hearings and meetings section, at www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/district/san-antonio.html