San Antonio, TX, February 5, 2009 – Gene 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.
“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, related.
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.