Area residents and commuters had the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns about the proposed improvement plans for Interstate 10 during a town hall meeting on Thursday at a presentation by the Texas Department of Transportation.
“TxDOT is currently working on a statewide initiative to optimize the I-10 corridor between San Antonio and Houston,” TxDOT advanced planning director Clayton Ripps said. “The I-10 corridor is important because it’s the main east-west connector for the southern half of the United States. The corridor serves a critical role in east-west travel. I-10 also provides a vital hurricane evacuation route.”
The proposed 27-mile long project is on I-10 between Loop 1604 east of San Antonio to State Highway 130 east of Seguin.
The improvements are expected to include the addition of a main lane in each direction on the highway, making it three lanes in both directions; convert two-way frontage roads to one-way; upgrading overpass and underpasses; improve bridge clearances and change several exit ramps within the project limits.
“The proposed project is needed to address existing and future congestion, facilitate freight movement and improve operations,” Ripps said. “Traffic along I-10 is expected to increase by approximately 40 percent by the year 2040, which would exceed the current capacity.”
However, several people who attended the meeting are concerned the $1.2 billion project could create more difficulties when driving.
Resident Marshal Fein believes the movement of “on ramps and off ramps is inadequate.”
“The on ramps and off ramps will create an additional drive time of six miles of roundtrip traffic because of the elimination of dual-lane roadways,” he said. “If you live north of Pfiel Road you’ll have to go to (FM) 1518, do a U-turn and come back to Pfiel Road because the roadways do not match along I-10.”
Fein added that it’s going to add more time to commutes and become more expensive because of the waste fuel.
Others, like resident Eithne Goetz, who live off I-10 are worried the increased traffic could bring more noise.
“I really would like the highway to consider doing some type of noise mitigation along the river bridge and a little further down because there are houses even closer to the highway then ours so I’m sure their traffic noise is incredible,” she said. “I’m sure with the addition of two lanes in either direction it would just get worse.”
Tim Yonker, who drives every day from San Antonio to Gonzales on I-10, is concerned the stretch of I-10 from 1604 to SH 130 will become a toll road in the future.
“I’m concerned that the tie into an existing toll road would facilitate the conversion of this road into a toll road,” he said. “I’m against toll roads ... I don’t think they work. I don’t think they’re efficient. I think it’s an unwise use of our resources.”
Harold Bauer, of New Braunfels and owner of property along I-10, showed similar concerns.
“Originally back when they started construction on 130 they said 130 was coming in the east of Seguin, following I-10 to the east of 1604 to 35 would be a toll road. That was back then,” he said. “Now this is coming up and all of a sudden they’re going to improve I-10 from 130 to 1604. I asked them ‘are you planning to make this a toll road?’ They said ‘no, not now.’ But, I want to know if this is coming in the future.”
Construction is planned to start in 2021 with the first phase starting at I-10 and 1604.