A $200 million improvement project for Interstate 10 West could double the number of lanes from Fair Oaks Ranch to Boerne, state highway officials said.
Ensuring smooth travels for increasing numbers of motorists is the objective of the expansion from four to eight lanes, a Texas Department of Transportation official said following an Oct. 2 public hearing.
During the session, Bexar and Kendall county inhabitants got a hint of what those changes might look like.
The proposed expansion would stretch from Texas 46 in Boerne to FM 3351 (Ralph Fair Road). Funding and a timeline is not yet available, agency representatives noted.
I-10 traffic is expected to increase 290 percent by 2054, TxDOT officials said. About 172,000 vehicles will traverse the roadway daily during that time, according to estimates.
To get a head start on improving traffic flow, TxDOT wants to add a general-purpose lane and high-occupancy vehicle lane in both directions. HOV lanes are for vehicles with two or more occupants, including vans, buses and carpools.
“(Traffic volume) is going to continue to get worse and mobility will continue to be great over time if we don’t do something,” said Jonathan Bean, TxDOT director of transportation, planning and development.
According to the department’s website, the 10-mile project means “existing bridges, crossings and overpasses will also be widened, replaced or modified to support these improvements. This project is anticipated to take place within the existing right of way.”
Some locals aren’t convinced the remedy is a cure-all.
Bill McNaught said he’d like to see further evidence of upcoming local growth before the project moves forward. Recent Kendall County projections have Boerne expanding at a rate of 24.8 percent over the next 20 years.
“(TxDOT officials) need to explain why they want such massive growth out here,” McNaught said. “I saw somewhere that the population of Kendall County is going to go from 30,000 residents to 90,000 residents. That is huge. Now we are going to be part of San Antonio connected with an enabling road. I am baffled that this is the road people see as the future.”
The benefits of an HOV lane on I-10 won’t be known until it has been traveled, Boerne resident Thomas Love said.
“Truth is found through experience, not hearsay,” he said.
Love attended the meeting to give TxDOT officials his own ideas for improving area infrastructure.
The Tooltron Industries Inc. president said he’d like to see a bike path installed along Parkway, where his business is based. Trees also could be planted in lieu of sidewalks seldom used by pedestrians, he added.
“Green space and climate change is very real to me,” Love said. “I think that beautifying and building infrastructure is very important, and trees give off much needed oxygen and reduce the heat.”
Bean said all resident feedback would be considered before the project is finalized.
An environmental study should be completed this fall, he said. Acquiring additional right of way before construction is not expected.
The expanded highway would provide commuters an incentive to carpool, Bean said.
“You can’t think about what is happening today and make decisions based on that,” he said. “You have to think about the kind of congestion we may be experiencing here in the future with the population growth that is expected. We are looking at 30 years out. We are going to have a reliable conduit for traffic to continue to flow along IH-10.”