TURF, Toll Party endorse Pape Dawson's 281 plan


Grassroots hail Pape Dawson’s interim fix for 281

San Antonio, TX, February 5, 2009Gene Dawson, President of Pape Dawson Engineers, saw a problem, unbelievable gridlock on 281 North of 1604, and he was just the guy who knew how to fix it. Pape Dawson has been briefing neighborhood groups on what many see as a workable interim solution to help get weary commuters on 281 N moving again.

What’s the best part about it? The fix is only $7.2 million, can clear environmental hurdles, boost traffic flow by 40%, and be done by the end of the year. See the schematic of the proposed J-turn intersections here. It’s called a superstreet, and they’ve been successfully implemented in North Carolina, Michigan, and Ohio and could be an affordable solution applied to other parts of Bexar County, like 1604 and Braun Rd. area and on Bandera Rd.

Super Street Concept
Click to view demo

“The grassroots are thrilled at the truly innovative solution Pape Dawson has brought to the table. It shows how we don’t need a 20 lane toll road plan to get traffic moving again. It also shows that there’s plenty of talent in this community to get the long-term fix on 281 when we all work together toward a sensible, speedy solution. While we believe the long-term solution to the county line can commence in months not years if the politicians would insist TxDOT work with community groups to agree on a less invasive, more affordable plan, this superstreet will at least stop the bleeding,” Terri Hall, Founder of TURF and the Toll Party, relates.

Citizens have been clamoring to get the original, non-toll freeway plan built on 281 for 4 years, and they have recently launched a campaign to pressure politicians in the area to get the job done. View it here. The freeway fix was promised in public hearings in 2001, had environmental clearance, no opposition, and it was funded with gas taxes in 2003. Then the Texas Legislature, including State Rep. Frank Corte and Sen. Jeff Wentworth, voted for Governor Rick Perry’s toll road plans. That’s when 281 FREEway improvements were turned into a toll plan instead.

“It’s all about the money. Our politicians want to tap the vein and charge 281 commuters an extra tax to get to work in order to fund their pet projects elsewhere. It’s highway robbery and citizens, rightly, went nuclear to stop it,” Hall declared.

Though the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) and TxDOT stubbornly claim there is no money or environmental clearance to fix 281, the money is still there in Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) documents, $425 million total, which is more than enough for the less invasive original plan AND the interchange at 281/1604.

“There are provisions in the law that would allow the project to commence with environmental clearance, and these agencies know it. They vehemently deny it because their jobs depend on it.

“The stalemate over 281 isn’t about lack of money or lack of clearance, it’s about a lack of political will. It’s about rogue bureaucrats and unresponsive politicians who can magically produce $20 million for an overpass for wealthy campaign donors in the Dominion, yet they’d have us believe the same ‘can’t’ be done on 281. The pathway to a solution the taxpayers and environmental groups are happy with is ripe for the picking, but our politicians refuse to choose it. They want our money, and they don’t care about the environment or whose lives’ they’re wrecking to do it,” Hall noted.


10 Replies to “TURF, Toll Party endorse Pape Dawson's 281 plan”

  1. Robert McKechnie

    I have supported you against tolls for many years, but I think this proposal forgets about the tens of thousands of us who live on each side of US281 and pay Bexar County taxes. This proposal is only good for those folks who moved north of city and probably don’t pay Bexar County taxes and drive on US281.

    I can’t see people turning into the traffic, to move across it when people are going 65 and then turning around to go back. It seems unsafe. Let’s look into this before we support it. To go to th enew shopping center from Stone Oak, I would have to go up Stone Oak PArkway, turn right then move across flowing traffic to come back. Between Evans and Encino Rio there isn’t room to build the proposal. Lets fight for the over passes. I have never seen how they did it in Michigan or North Carolina, but was the traffic moving like we do at 65?

  2. terrih Post author

    Bob, when I saw the more detailed simulation video a few weeks ago, and asked more questions, my understanding is that your move across to the turnaround is protected by a stoplight. This concept does NOT throw stopped traffic into motorists going 65 MPH! We’d NEVER support such an unsafe plan. There are 32 choke points now at each intersection. If this superstreet gets built, the intersections would only have 16. So that’s essentially how they shave off stop light wait times.

    I’m trying to get the simulation video to post on the site to help residents and commuters alike see the concept in more detail. All the neighborhood groups and residents along 281 who have viewed the proposal are overwhelmingly FOR IT! That’s why we’re supporting it. The residents are asking for it.

  3. Robert McKechnie

    In traveling on US281 in the past 2 weeks , I have noticed that the traffic light synchronization seems to be out of whack again. There is no quick and easy solution, but we need to ask again that the city/county/TXDOT relook at the traffic lights at Stone Oak, Evans and Encino Rio. Maybe our new County Commissioner Kevin Wolff will take a stance.

    As for the simulation video I would like to see it. Then maybe I will reconsider my comments.

  4. Daryl

    I’m in favor of any plan that enables us to get through the congestion without the prospect of personally funding the project and future endeavors. I’m looking forward to seeing a simulation video that takes the concept and allows our community to see 1st hand what has been installed and working in other states. At first glance, this looks very doable!!!

  5. Dorthea

    Hi Terri,

    I have supported the original proposal, and have been vehemently against tolling our freeways. My backyard faces Hwy 281 (Big Springs). I would like to know more about this SuperStreet, as it seems my property will be directly impacted by this project. Hopefully you can post it on the site. I will also attempt to find this information else where. Thanks for all you do.

  6. David Galvan

    Would this concept fit in Helotes, where if we act soon before the govt. there imposes yet more unrestricted, unplanned growth and development without considering the necessary decongestion it would take to make Bandera Road safe to drive on? Bandera Road is already crazy with traffic, the City Council of Helotes has lots of pans to bring more business and homes out here, but there are no plans moving forward to consider what this development will mean to the increased traffic.Would Pape Dawson bring their vision of thoughtful planning for the future to Helotes before it’s too late?

  7. Vincent Del Broccolo

    I agree with Robert, to go up Stone Oak Pkwy. or Evans Rd. during rush hours
    would cause more of a traffic jam than you have now. Think about putting more traffic on Evans Rd., the traffic is backed up heading East half way down to Bush Middle School. Going West it is also backed up. Sometimes you have to wait 5 or 6 lights to make a turn. If you extend the lights so more cars go thru, then you are creating a problem on RT.281, defeating what you were trying to do. I thouht HEB was suppose to pay for fixing the roads by the new shopping center? What about next year when the new Golf Course opens and we get even more traffic on Evans Rd., Stone Oak, Marshall Rd.. The J turns will be a waste of time. Do not do something that will get the people in these area’s even more upset. Keep fighting for the overpasses!!!!

  8. Laura Hopkins

    This plan is better than what we now have- and frankly – I am happy to have any solution at this point. However, there is a slight bitterness and I have to ask ..what about the original plan? Overpasses and an interchange at 1604 – with NO lights on 281 to deal with? That still seems like the right thing to do here on 281N. Do we have to settle for a little because they won’t do what is right?

    Kudos to Pape-Dawson for taking the initiative and taking on this task to resolve this congestion – and without being asked! You folks are a breath of fresh air in this mess.

  9. terrih Post author

    It’s kinda counterintuitive, but superstreets have actually been implemented in other states and they do improve traffic flow. In fact, Houston just did one at a nightmarish intersection and it has increased flow tremendously! Basically, there are 32 choke points at today’s intersections. If the superstreet were built, it would have only 16. That’s how you get 40% more traffic through there with far less wait time at the lights, and they’re safer, too. These eliminate head-on and T-bone collisions. We have suggested these types of non-toll solutions for YEARS, but we were laughed out of the meetings.The superstreet concept has applications for many bottlenecks around town, and they’re a fraction of the cost of these mammoth toll projects.

    We’re still fighting for the REAL fix, the overpass solution to 281. Please read the entire press release above and you’ll see that’s the main focus of it…getting the whole solution NOW! I had a meeting with the “decision-makers” a few weeks ago and Senator Jeff Wentworth still won’t budge and make it happen. I showed documentation from TxDOT’s own documents that silenced every excuse that we’re out of money and showed them how it could get clearance. Wentworth got up and left. Pressure him (jeff.wentworth@senate.state.tx.us and 210- 826-7800). He’s the gatekeeper to our sanity and heavily tied to toll road interests. He has pure contempt for his constituents who have begged, pleaded, and sued to get this road fixed.

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