Many East/Northeast Side residents who live and/or work outside of Loop 410 have grown sick of the daily gridlock that takes place on I-10 East at Loop 410. This gridlock condition is due to this cloverleaf interchange officially called the “Kirby Interchange” built in 1965 being obsolete and operating well over capacity.
The Texas Transportation Commission appropriates funds to local metropolitan planning organizations which prioritize which local projects are funded each fiscal year. The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) determines funding priority for transportation improvements in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area.
I decided to contact the office of State Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins’ (District 120) to inquire on what can be done to speed up the funding of the I-10 East expansion project and the Kirby Interchange reconfiguration project. Her office facilitated a meeting with Jonathan A. Bean, P.E., Director, Transportation, Planning and Development, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), San Antonio District.
Mr. Bean stated that the I-10 East expansion project (from Foster Rd. to Loop 1604) is fully funded with $120 million and due to begin construction in 2018. This project will expand I-10 from 4-lanes to 6-lanes. This project is separate from the ongoing improvements on I-10 that adds an overpass at Woodlake Parkway and reconfigures access roads, entrances and exits.
When asked about the status of the funding for the $500 million-dollar Kirby Interchange project, Mr. Bean stated that the preliminary work to include environmental clearance, right-of-way acquisition and utility work is funded and will begin in 2018. TxDOT plans to complete this initial work within three years.
The first $100 million is slated to fund Phase 1 construction which is scheduled to begin in September 2020. This phase is toinclude priority direct connectors (Loop 410 North to I-10 East and I-10 West to Loop 410 North), ramp reconfigurations and auxiliary lanes. This will relieve the most critical bottleneck conditions.
Phase 2 costs $100 million and is scheduled for funding and construction in September 2024. Phase 3 costs $250 million and is scheduled for September 2028. The entire project is expected to take 10 years unless funding is identified sooner. This project covers a large area which stretches along Loop 410 from US Highway 87 (Rigsby Ave) to State Loop 13 (WW White Rd) as well as I-10 from East Houston St. to Foster Rd.
There is substantial economic growth in this area. Last month, HEB announced the purchase of 871 acres for a distribution center adjacent to the project site. The construction project itself is an economic generator.
On I-35, Bexar County’s Alamo Regional Mobility Authority is set to begin a $1.2 billion project to expand the expressway from 8 to 12 lanes by adding 4 elevated managed (TOLL) lanes from the Bexar/Guadalupe County Line to I-410 South. Construction is set to begin in 2020. Between TxDOT and Alamo RMA, there will be a total of $2 billion in heavy highway construction projects in progress simultaneously on the East/Northeast Side over the next 10 years.
There appears to be plenty of opportunity on the horizon. There is plenty of opportunity for free training in construction trades. If I was a young person not sure what career I want to pursue, I would check out YouthBuild San Antonio. They teach construction trades to young men and women ages 16-to-24. They provide second-chance opportunities to those with criminal records.
Sidney Smith is a transportation contributor to the San Antonio Observer. Mr. Smith is a past president of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), San Antonio Chapter. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and does not reflect the official position of COMTO or any other entity.