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TxDOT responds to businesses mad over Potranco medians

Median replaces middle turning lane, is meant to improve safety

SAN ANTONIO – A new median is just a few feet of concrete on top of what was once a middle turning lane, but to Nikki Oliver, it may as well be another road entirely.

"You're not able to make a turnaround," she said. "At 4:30 yesterday, I tried to make a turnaround and it was impossible."

The portion of Potranco Road in front of the early learning center Oliver owns is just part of the miles of road on which the Texas Department of Transportation is replacing the middle turning lane with a concrete median. Now, instead of turning freely, drivers need to seek cuts in the median and turnarounds.

A petition Oliver started to install a left turn bay has more than 450 supporters. She said not being able to turn left is not only an inconvenience to parents trying to pick up kids, it's also dangerous now that they have to go to turnarounds.

"Every time a parent is coming in, I'm hearing a different story of how they almost got hit in the back," Oliver said.

Oliver’s neighbor, Dr. Ricardo de la Garza, the owner of Westover Hills Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, shared Oliver's concerns about convenience and safety.

"Any emergencies, I can't understand how an ambulance is going to get through here, how a firetruck is going to get here," de la Garza said.

A San Antonio Fire Department spokesman said they haven't heard any complaints from crews.

The local TxDOT district responded to the petition and Oliver's concerns in an open letter posted on its blog. TxDOT said the medians are about safety, and streets are safer with a median than with the shared turn lanes.

The businesses in that area, including Oliver’s and de la Garza's, have an easement that could help with access, the blog post reads, but it was just never developed into driveway space.

While the final concrete hasn't been poured for the median in front of either business, the open letter said TxDOT is "confident we got things right with the current plan sheets."

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