North Side residents recently had the opportunity to provide input on proposals designed to improve traffic flow in the Loop 410/U.S. 281 area.
The Texas Department of Transportation held a virtual public meeting in October to discuss an estimated $67 million in upgrades to 410 between West Avenue and Broadway, to U.S. 281 North near 410, and at San Pedro Avenue and 410.
After the Oct. 13 session, TxDOT provided a two-week period for comments from the public.
Over the years, elevated ramps at 410 and 281 have eased traffic congestion around one of the city’s busiest freeway interchanges.
However, vehicles often jam in places such as the westbound 410 ramp from southbound 281, creating choke points on 410 where entering motorists merge with drivers exiting to San Pedro and other intersecting streets.
According to TxDOT, there was an average of three car accidents daily on this stretch from 2014 to 2018. The stretch saw nine traffic fatalities during the same time.
This roadway section ranked 46th on the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s list of the 100 most congested in Texas.
“Motorists currently experience excessive queuing, or backups, along main lanes and at intersections throughout the project area,” the TxDOT virtual presentation stated. “With continued growth in the region, these conditions are not expected to improve.”
Proposed fixes to 410 from West Avenue to Broadway include:
- Removing or relocating ramp locations and alignments
- Building new ramps
- Constructing auxiliary lanes and concrete median barriers
- Widening and realigning frontage roads
- Upgrading intersections
- Re-striping roadways
“Improvements include reconfiguring ramp, lengthening and/or removing and weaving merging segments, improving intersections and removing bottlenecks,” said Laura Lopez, a TxDOT spokeswoman.
410 would retain four to six main lanes with two- to four-lane frontage roads, plus intermittent, noncontinuous auxiliary lanes.
Direct connectors and ramps would still link motorists with major intersecting roads.
As LOCAL Community News previously reported, the plan no longer contains the permanent closure of Honeysuckle Lane at 410.
Many Castle Hills residents balked when TxDOT originally aired the idea. Neighbors said closing Honeysuckle would impede travel to the north and south sides of the city, which is bisected by 410.
TxDOT listened and nixed the closure, delighting Castle Hills leaders and residents.
But Castle Hills City Council still passed a resolution Oct. 26 expressing their concerns about the plan’s potential impact on traffic between West Avenue and Blanco Road.
“Issues of concern include greater traffic use and congestion on our access roads, the increased danger to pedestrians, particularly near Castle Hills Elementary School, overall noise levels, restricting access to Blanco Road from Northwest Military southbound, and increased vehicle use of Honeysuckle Lane,” Alderman Joe Izbrand said.
In addition, the proposed enhancements would contain modifications at the Northwest Military Highway/410 interchange.
The highway department also proposes betterments to 281 from 410 to East Nakoma Drive, including:
- Changing ramp locations and alignments
- Removing some ramps
- Adding auxiliary lanes
- Re-striping roadways
- Constructing a southbound collector-distributor
- 281 would generally consist of three to four main lanes, plus intermittent, noncontinuous auxiliary lanes, with one- to two-lane frontage roads.
Also, proposed improvements include reconstruction of the Rhapsody Drive bridge over the existing southbound 281 main lanes and the prospective southbound collector-distributor.
TxDOT also wants to upgrade San Pedro at 410 by improving intersections, building turn lanes and re-striping roadways.
San Pedro would retain three lanes in each direction with new additional turn lanes.
Although extra rights of way would be required, residential or commercial-business displacements aren’t expected.
State officials said if action isn’t taken, morning peak travel times on westbound 410, from Broadway to West Avenue, could increase from eight minutes to nearly 22 by 2045.
San Antonio District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño, who represents communities inside 410, said infrastructure must grow to match the needs of residents, commuters to jobs at San Antonio International Airport and other employers along the loop.
“As this project moves forward, consistent communication with surrounding neighborhoods and businesses will lead to a smoother construction schedule and a safer, more efficient final product,” he said. “I will ensure affected District 1 neighborhoods are aware of this effort and have a voice in the process.”
The final schematic design is due early in 2021. TxDOT anticipates receiving environmental clearance in the spring. Highway officials then will spend a year acquiring necessary rights of way and relocating utilities.
If all goes well, phased construction could begin as soon as early 2023.
For more, visit www.txdot.gov and search keywords “I-410 at US 281.”