One of the busiest stretches of highway in Bexar County, Interstate 35 between Loop 1604 and FM 3009, will undergo 18 months of major construction starting this fall, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
"This kind of project sounds scarier than it really is,” said Josh Donat, TxDOT spokesman.
He said most of the congestion will be on the access roads where highway ramps will be reconfigured, “making on ramps, off ramps, and off ramps into on ramps.”
Donat said that should help avoid vehicles merging to exit as drivers are entering the highway.
Both sides of I-35 also will have an extended auxiliary lane leading up to the ramps, he said.
“It’s a way to get in and out of the main lanes quickly and efficiently,” Donat said.
He said fortunately, I-35 is wide enough to accommodate the auxiliary lanes.
Donat also said three overpasses will have turnaround lanes.
“We’re improving safety. We’re improving traffic flow, making this a better place to drive,” said Donat.
Johnny Stewart, who lives in the area, said the project has been a long overdue.
“All you got to do is in be in this traffic every afternoon and you’ll understand why,” Stewart said.
He said traffic is often at a standstill.
Joseph Casanova, another of the estimated 200,000 drivers daily on that section of I-35, said any construction headaches would be well worth it.
Casanova said, “It may open up things. They’ve done a lot of things around the city to open up different areas, a lot of work on 281.”
However, small business owner Leslie Stuman said she worries changing the highway ramps may cost her customers.
Her cake shop is in a retail center on the southbound access road.
When her exit becomes an entrance ramp, Stuman said people will have to travel further down to get off I-35 and then double back.
“Then they’re going to change their mind and they might not come back,” Stuman said.
So Stuman said she plans to use the internet and offer specials to generate business.
However, Donat said he predicts, “When we’re all done, these businesses are going to boom.”
Donat said the state and federal funds set aside by the Texas Legislature will be used to pay for the $21 million dollar project.