HOV lane conversion on 281 in Alamo city will shrink capacity

Link to article.

Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff makes erroneous statements in this News 4 story. The Alamo Area MPO’s own consultant said HOV lanes have done nothing to increase carpooling or alleviate congestion. Ginger Goodin of the Texas Transportation Institute testified before the MPO last month that HOV-bus lanes are designed to change behavior and get people to switch modes of transportation.

Then there’s Wolff’s claim that the 281 project will add 6 new lanes. The only new lanes they’re building are FRONTAGE ROADS, not general purpose highway lanes. There are NO NEW highway main lanes whatsoever in this project, and, in fact, the HOV lanes will convert two of the six existing general purpose lanes (open to all cars) into an HOV-bus restricted lane, actually shrinking existing capacity and leaving only 4 non-HOV lanes when today there are six.

The public has a right to know how congested this corridor will continue to be when they’re promising one thing and delivering another.

Millions set aside for highway improvements
By Emily Baucum
February 9, 2016

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County leaders set aside millions of dollars Tuesday to help revamp two major highways: Loop 1604 out west, and Highway 281 on the far north side.

It’s all part of a nearly billion-dollar plan to improve roads in growing parts of town.

The plan no longer includes toll roads but it does include something else we’ve never seen in this area: carpool lanes.

Drivers on the far west side already know progress on Loop 1604 takes patience.

“It was just stop-and-go traffic,” driver Shanara Guishard said.

Work is underway to expand the highway and add overpasses.

“You’re always stuck waiting in traffic,” driver Jeremy Duran said.

Bexar County is one of several agencies putting money into the pot.

Commissioners set aside $52 million to revamp Loop 1604 from Highway 90 to Culebra, and they paved the way for improvements stretching all the way to Bandera.

“So you’ll have a full divided highway from Highway 90 to I-35,” Commissioner Kevin Wolff said.

Commissioners also set aside $48 million to revamp Highway 281 from Loop 1604 north to the county line. Construction will hopefully start in early 2017.

“Loop 1604 to Stone Oak Parkway, you will see a total of six new lanes,” Commissioner Wolff said. “Two of those will be HOV lanes.”

They’ll be the first carpool lanes in our area, and he says research shows they should relieve congestion.

“All the data says the HOVs should work,” Commissioner Wolff said. “But we also have the ‘get out of jail free’ card: if it doesn’t, we’ll just turn it into a general purpose free lane.”

Both projects will take a couple of years to complete. Commissioner Wolff says if they cost more than expected, TxDOT would be the agency on the hook.