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Author Topic: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas  (Read 36794 times)

Brian556

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #150 on: September 26, 2016, 10:10:16 PM »

Quote from Bobby5380:
Quote
Narrow lanes and smaller shoulders aren't necessarily all that dangerous on an urban freeway, provided the road carries a slower speed limit. But the risk is definitely there for vehicles to trade paint with each other.

Take a look at this narrow bridge in Denton, Texas:https://www.google.com/maps/@33.2085462,-97.1618197,3a,75y,164.31h,61.76t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sBQ12N4YG4wKFVR3fXXE3_A!2e0!5s20121201T000000!7i13312!8i6656

Once, a semi hit the wall on the right, which practically protrudes into the lane, went over the center divider, striking two oncoming vehicles. These deficiencies are indeed dangerous
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Bobby5280

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #151 on: September 27, 2016, 01:06:09 AM »

As I said though, a bridge is quite a bit more of an expensive fix. That's old street view imagery by the way. The bridge was repaired, but the road wasn't widened much following that repair. OTOH, I-35E is going through a pretty big upgrade between Denton and Dallas. Those narrow shoulders probably won't be there for much longer.

Those at grade crossings farther west are much less expensive to remedy.
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Brian556

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #152 on: September 27, 2016, 01:16:16 AM »

Quote from Bobby5280:
Quote
As I said though, a bridge is quite a bit more of an expensive fix. That's old street view imagery by the way. The bridge was repaired, but the road wasn't widened much following that repair. OTOH, I-35E is going through a pretty big upgrade between Denton and Dallas. Those narrow shoulders probably won't be there for much longer.

Those at grade crossings farther west are much less expensive to remedy.

I know it's old imagery. I had to use the "turn back time" feature to get it. I live near I-35E near Lewisville Lake, so I keep up well with the project
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kphoger

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #153 on: September 27, 2016, 12:45:03 PM »

Quote from: kphoger
What??  Not even close!  On OK-7, there are public cross roads intersecting at grade pretty much every mile.  I-10 in Texas is controlled-access with a very few ranch access points that almost nobody uses.  "No better" is not a valid way to describe it.

Why don't you back up there a bit since you're conveniently trying to have it both ways.

Earlier you griped about my complaints that those at grade intersections on I-40 were a hazard if the general public used them. Public access, right?

No, my gripe was about calling a driver "careless" or "stupid" for using a portion of the roadway that, by all appearances, is open for public use.  You and I agree in that the pavement markings and signs indicate the crossover can be used by the public; this increases the likelihood that Joe Driver will use it and cause issues.  I maintain that, as a private entrance used only by people doing business there, the safety impact is quite minimal, but I do concede that markings and signage might possibly lead to a higher safety impact; I also note that the severity of any collision would likely be high, due to the narrow median and lack of acceleration or deceleration lanes.  However, I do not favor the addition of true acceleration or deceleration lanes, as those would only further indicate to passing traffic that it's OK to flip a U-turn there or that the crossroad actually leads somewhere they might want to go—again increasing the likelihood of problems.

The more I think about it, the more I think the paved section in the median should be lengthened (to accommodate a vehicle with a trailer without blocking the through lanes), supplementary plaques should be added to the existing W2-1 advance warning signs, tailored to the specific instance by TxDOT as provided for in MUTCD 2C.03(04) (I would suggest "LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY" or "PRIVATE ENTRANCE" or some such phrase), said W2-1 signs should be added to the left side of the roadway, and perhaps a flashing yellow beacon be added as well.

And yes, it absolutely does SUCK compared to a normal 4 lane expressway design with at grade crossings. At least OK-7 and other roads like it have features built into the highway to account for the traffic movements. These idiotic, dangerous at-grades on I-10 and I-40 pretend to be a freeway while providing the cheapness of a 4-lane divided street. It's the worst of both worlds.

There being turn lanes on OK-7 does not automatically make it safer than I-10 or I-40.  There is a LOT more to highway safety than just one feature.  OK-7 surely has higher traffic volumes and certainly has gads more conflict points.  You really need to stop comparing the two, because it's just making you look dumb.

Quote from: Bobby5280
The government changes regulations on highway design periodically and the states have to comply with that. If some state wants to keep a section of Interstate in 1970's era quality or ignore other new safety regulations then it shouldn't be signed as an Interstate.

Quote from: kkt
Or else what?  What sections of interstate that either received waivers to be included or met requirements when they were included have had their signage removed because they don't meet current interstate requirements?

The "or else" part is the federal government denying federal funding on highway projects in that state. They do have some leverage on getting new standards adopted.

This would not happen.  Let's get back to the real world, where a significant percentage of the Interstate highway system is currently in 1970s-era quality.


* * *


(1) All this talk about drivers not expecting a crossroad goes out the window with the W2-1 advance warning signs.  It may be a surprise to find a W2-1 sign along there but, once a driver does see it, then he or she should be fully prepared for cross traffic.

(2) All this talk of 80 mph traffic needs to be toned down.  Texas has curvy, two-lane highways with ranch access signed at 75 mph, so 80 is certainly not out of line for a four-lane divided highway.  In fact, Texas has one highway farther east signed for 85 mph.  Even if it were such a big deal, then a speed zone could simply be added to the section(s) of Interstate or a speed advisory tab be added to the W2-1 signs.

(3) I've been reading posts about these driveways being temporary in nature.  Does anyone have actual documentation that Texas ever intended to remove these access points?  Without any official reference to their being temporary in nature, I must assume they were always intended to be permanent.  (Besides, if we argued for downgrading every highway that had something in the original plans left unfinished, we'd be downgrading a boatload of highways out there.)

(4) Is it really hard for people to understand that money is not unlimited?  The money has to come from somewhere, and allocating it to one project merely takes it away from another potential project.  Unless we have a plan to make money grow on trees, let's use the available funds at locations where fatal accidents are actually happening.  DOTs fund projects based on actual numbers, not philosophical arguments about expectations and embarrassment.  If my tax money went to an agency that spent millions of dollars on a project based on a hypothetical scenario drummed up in someone's imagination, while shelving a project where people were actually dying in car wrecks, then I should speak up as a responsible, concerned citizen.

Edited a bunch of MUTCD references to the correct identifier (W2-1)
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 01:41:32 PM by kphoger »
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kkt

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #154 on: September 27, 2016, 01:16:57 PM »

Yes, I realize it's now harder to get any deficient roadway signed as interstate than it used to be, but I haven't seen them remove existing interstates for not being updated.
Would current Business 80 in Sacramento between E Street and I-80/unsigned Route 244 be one example of this?

Good point... do you know whether it had a permanent waiver or a temporary one with the agreement that it would be upgraded later at mostly Federal expense?

Quote
The current remaining section of Central Freeway in SF was once part of I-80 in the early 1960s, though it was removed from the route once the Western Freeway project was canceled.

Was the expectation that the Central Freeway would have been rebuilt to higher standards at the same time as the Western Freeway was built?

Quote
The one-time I-580 in Omaha, Nebraska might fit this too, wasn't that signed?

Well, I haven't seen historic photos of signs, but the I-580 appeared on at least one map that's seen on the AA Roads site.

You're right, in a few cases interstate designations were removed.  I suspect they had a temporary waiver and then decided not to carry through with the agreed upgrades.
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Avalanchez71

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #155 on: September 27, 2016, 01:20:53 PM »

Well I-124 is Chattanooga is designated as an Interstate Highway but not signed.  So should we remove the I-10 and I-40 signs and then make sure that the I-124 signs go up?
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TheStranger

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #156 on: September 27, 2016, 01:39:56 PM »

Yes, I realize it's now harder to get any deficient roadway signed as interstate than it used to be, but I haven't seen them remove existing interstates for not being updated.
Would current Business 80 in Sacramento between E Street and I-80/unsigned Route 244 be one example of this?

Good point... do you know whether it had a permanent waiver or a temporary one with the agreement that it would be upgraded later at mostly Federal expense?

You know, I had always interpreted the timeline as thus (and I could be wrong on the details as this was before my time) -

- CalTrans had planned (federal money or otherwise) to build the parallel realignment, not unlike what Oklahoma has done with I-40 in Oklahoma City, and Rhode Island has done somewhat with I-195 in Providence...one that would be updated to 1960s/1970s Interstate standard.  While the portion of (former) I-80 that is now US 50 is Interstate-standard in its entirety, and the portion of today's Route 51/Business 80 that was built in the 1960s (the 29/30 viaduct from Route 99 to E Street) is as well...the portion from E Street to the north terminus of Route 51 was constructed as US 99E (or US 40 & US 99E) first, then grandfathered into the Interstate system.

- In the mid-1970s, local opposition and county officials nixed multiple bypass projects (143, 148, 244, 102) in the area.

- In 1979, the City of Sacramento voted against having any further construction of the parallel realignment along the railroad tracks.  The carraigeway for the upgraded I-80 at this point had only been completed to Winters Street near Del Paso Heights.  Funding for the realignment was diverted to a new light rail project. 

- As a result of the 1979 changes, in 1982 I-80 was moved off of the old US 99E corridor and the east-west segment from what had been I-880 (now I-80) in West Sacramento to Route 99.  I-880 designation was removed, while Business 80 was created.  880 would remain unused until 1984 when it was designated along Route 17 from Oakland south to San Jose.  This is the part that is nebulous for me - was the funding diversion from 1979 the reason that the original Sacramento I-80 lost its Interstate designation, or the fact that the old US 99E/current Route 51 did not get upgraded?   Even with the Marconi Curve and other narrow segments, the 1940s-era freeway isn't as dramatically non-standard as say I-278.

- 1986 was the first year of the Sacramento RT light rail system.  The unused I-80 right of way between Watt Avenue and Winters Street was incorporated into the Watt/I-80, Watt/I-80 West, and Roseville Road stations, with the pavement now being connected to Winters.

- In recent years, there has been some talk about completely modernizing the existing Business 80 north of E Street, which kinda brings us back to what had originally been planned in the 1960s for that corridor!

 

Quote
The current remaining section of Central Freeway in SF was once part of I-80 in the early 1960s, though it was removed from the route once the Western Freeway project was canceled.

Was the expectation that the Central Freeway would have been rebuilt to higher standards at the same time as the Western Freeway was built?


I recall seeing on Flickr (there's one guy on there who posted a lot of SF planning photos and maps from the 1950s-1960s) that the Fell Street junction would have been expanded drastically to included a directional Y interchange between the Western and Central Freeways.  Having said that...I don't know if any rebuild was ever planned for the 2 miles between Fell Street and today's 101/80 split; the section of the Central Freeway west of Van Ness reconfigured ca. 2005 is the newest construction along that route.

There's a video on Youtube somewhere of I-80 in the 1980s showing 80/101 cosigned westbound along the San Francisco Skyway, which I always have interpreted as a vestige of the 1960s concurrency along the Central Freeway.


  Since Loma Prieta, this has primarily been signed (inaccurately) as "US 101 South - San Jose".
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Bobby5280

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #157 on: September 27, 2016, 04:28:54 PM »

Quote from: Bobby5280
Why don't you back up there a bit since you're conveniently trying to have it both ways.

Earlier you griped about my complaints that those at grade intersections on I-40 were a hazard if the general public used them. Public access, right?
Quote from: kphoger
No, my gripe was about calling a driver "careless" or "stupid" for using a portion of the roadway that, by all appearances, is open for public use.

You and I agree in that the pavement markings and signs indicate the crossover can be used by the public; this increases the likelihood that Joe Driver will use it and cause issues.  I maintain that, as a private entrance used only by people doing business there, the safety impact is quite minimal, but I do concede that markings and signage might possibly lead to a higher safety impact; I also note that the severity of any collision would likely be high, due to the narrow median and lack of acceleration or deceleration lanes.  However, I do not favor the addition of true acceleration or deceleration lanes, as those would only further indicate to passing traffic that it's OK to flip a U-turn there or that the crossroad actually leads somewhere they might want to go—again increasing the likelihood of problems.

The more I think about it, the more I think the paved section in the median should be lengthened (to accommodate a vehicle with a trailer without blocking the through lanes), supplementary plaques should be added to the existing W2-1 advance warning signs, tailored to the specific instance by TxDOT as provided for in MUTCD 2C.03(04) (I would suggest "LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY" or "PRIVATE ENTRANCE" or some such phrase), said W2-1 signs should be added to the left side of the roadway, and perhaps a flashing yellow beacon be added as well.

Unless TX-DOT did something in the past couple months, there aren't any W2-1 Cross Road signs along I-40 between Exit 0 and the rest area just past mile marker 12. There's other signs along there, such as a "I-40 Purple Heart Trail" display. But there's nothing warning traffic about the eight at-grade crossings through that stretch.

The at-grade crossings on I-10 in West Texas don't appear to be signed at all. They're mostly dirt & gravel roads that look improvised to enter and exit I-10 in any manner deemed convenient. Some of them enter I-10 directly even when the Interstate is flanked on both sides by frontage roads. In most spots were a frontage road comes to a dead end there's a gravel road hopping right onto the Interstate. It's funny that there is that kind of lee-way on standards being granted to I-10 in West Texas while other road projects, such as the very long delayed I-86 project in New York, is held to a higher standard before I-86 shields can be installed.

Back to the crossings on I-40, the only thing "open" for public use with those at-grade crossings is making U-turns. That's dangerous to do on an Interstate highway and should be strongly discouraged. If the at-grade crossings are to be left as is then they need to be marked with Private Entrance and R3-4 No U Turn signs. As to extending the pavement for trailers, deceleration left turn lanes might make turns for trucks hauling things like cattle trailers "easier" by giving at least a little more room. A trailer of significant length might be a bitch to turn safely through those crossings regardless.

Quote from: kphoger
There being turn lanes on OK-7 does not automatically make it safer than I-10 or I-40.  There is a LOT more to highway safety than just one feature.  OK-7 surely has higher traffic volumes and certainly has gads more conflict points.  You really need to stop comparing the two, because it's just making you look dumb.

The intersection designs on the stretch of OK-7 I showed are safer than those crossings on I-40. Left turn movements are taken out of the passing lanes on the main roadways. If the crossings on I-40 are going to be remain minimally signed and implied as okay for public use then they should have turn lanes added.

Quote from: Avalanchez71
Well I-124 is Chattanooga is designated as an Interstate Highway but not signed.  So should we remove the I-10 and I-40 signs and then make sure that the I-124 signs go up?

I-124 was signed at one time, but I don't know why it went to being un-signed. Roads that are Interstate quality but unsigned is another topic. There are state highways, US highways and toll roads that are Interstate quality, but not marked with Interstate shields. But if a road is marked with an Interstate shield I think it needs to live up to certain standards or carry a different kind of route marker.

I also think the transition from freeway quality to non-freeway quality road needs to be indicated somehow. It might be a bit much to have a big overhead "Freeway Ends" sign installed. But I think motorists should be warned with signs that for the next X number of miles the highway will have at grade crossings just like any other ordinary 4 lane divided highway.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 04:34:10 PM by Bobby5280 »
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kphoger

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #158 on: September 27, 2016, 05:29:03 PM »

Unless TX-DOT did something in the past couple months, there aren't any W2-1 Cross Road signs along I-40 between Exit 0 and the rest area just past mile marker 12. There's other signs along there, such as a "I-40 Purple Heart Trail" display. But there's nothing warning traffic about the eight at-grade crossings through that stretch.

The at-grade crossings on I-10 in West Texas don't appear to be signed at all. They're mostly dirt & gravel roads that look improvised to enter and exit I-10 in any manner deemed convenient.

Sorry, I was going by the ones near the Hudspeth County ghost towns of Arispe and Etholen—especially the latter.

Warning sign approaching Arizpe, eastbound I-10
Warning sign approaching Arizpe, westbound I-10
Crossroads at Arizpe—gravel median crossover, but paved north-side frontage road

Warning sign approaching Etholen, eastbound I-10
Warning sign approaching Etholen, westbound I-10
Crossroads at Etholen—narrow paved median crossover, but paved north-side frontage road

I lso spot-checked a few other spots in the area, and they all had W2-1 advance warning signs.

Now, I know I looked at one of the I-40 ones a while ago, but I can't for the life of me remember where they are.  Would you link to Google Maps for one of them?
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dfwmapper

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #159 on: September 27, 2016, 07:02:40 PM »

(2) All this talk of 80 mph traffic needs to be toned down.  Texas has curvy, two-lane highways with ranch access signed at 75 mph, so 80 is certainly not out of line for a four-lane divided highway.  In fact, Texas has one highway farther east signed for 85 mph.  Even if it were such a big deal, then a speed zone could simply be added to the section(s) of Interstate or a speed advisory tab be added to the W2-1 signs.
Advisory signs are fine, but under Texas law, changing the speed limit would require an engineering study to determine that current limit is incorrect based on a very specific set of criteria (primarily the 85th percentile speeds, but also design and crash statistics). Given that the limits along that portion have changed multiple times over the years (which would have required engineering studies), the limits are clearly correct as things stand. Lowering the limits would just lead to more dangerous situations when some drivers lower their speeds to follow the law while the rest of us flip off the sign and drive at the speed that is actually reasonable for the road (i.e. keep the cruise set to 80ish). That large speed differential between large numbers of vehicles is almost certainly more dangerous than 3 cars a day making turns.
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Bobby5280

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #160 on: September 27, 2016, 09:56:16 PM »

Quote from: kphoger
Sorry, I was going by the ones near the Hudspeth County ghost towns of Arispe and Etholen—especially the latter.

I missed those. I was going by the literally dozens of at-grade gravel & dirt road crossings on I-10 East of the I-20 interchange. They're scattered nearly to Junction, TX. None of them are signed. But the crossings are indeed there.

Quote from: kphoger
Now, I know I looked at one of the I-40 ones a while ago, but I can't for the life of me remember where they are.  Would you link to Google Maps for one of them?

There's fresh Street View imagery on the Eastbound lanes of that stretch of I-40, dated Jan. 2016. There are no W2-1 cross roads signs visible for I-40 traffic. The intersections have Yield and One Way signs facing the gates of private property, but nothing warning I-40 traffic of the oncoming at-grade intersections. There's plenty of other at-grade intersections on regular divided highways in Texas that aren't signed worth a damn, but when you're driving on a road like US-287 you expect lots of at-grade crossings and driveways. Such things are pretty out of place on Interstates.
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Brian556

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #161 on: September 28, 2016, 12:55:56 AM »

The situation at Arizpe is insane. That's not just ranch property access, that's a freakin' asphalt plant!!! There has to be trucks coming and going quite frequently!!!! Plus, there is frontage road access to an interchange on either side!!! WTF were they thinking?!!!

Thanks kphoger for pointing this one out!
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mwb1848

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #162 on: September 28, 2016, 01:51:55 PM »

FWIW: I don't think that plant is even active. The CEMEX sign has blown away and those two trailers appear in the same location in Google Streetview Images dating back to 2007.
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J N Winkler

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #163 on: September 28, 2016, 02:07:11 PM »

All this talk about drivers not expecting a crossroad goes out the window with the W2-1 advance warning signs.  It may be a surprise to find a W2-1 sign along there but, once a driver does see it, then he or she should be fully prepared for cross traffic.

This is a small point, but it is still possible for drivers to be surprised by these crossings if the sign is mounted on only one side (as is the case on I-10 at Arizpe, in one of the examples you cited) and it is hidden by a large truck.

I've been reading posts about these driveways being temporary in nature.  Does anyone have actual documentation that Texas ever intended to remove these access points?  Without any official reference to their being temporary in nature, I must assume they were always intended to be permanent.  (Besides, if we argued for downgrading every highway that had something in the original plans left unfinished, we'd be downgrading a boatload of highways out there.)

I am not aware that any intent that these crossings be temporary has been documented in the case of Texas specifically.  However, the I-40 accesses in New Mexico west of Albuquerque are signed with "TEMPORARY" placards, which leads directly to the assumption that if FHWA permits these in New Mexico on the basis that they are temporary, the more or less identical accesses in Texas are permitted for the same reason.

Is it really hard for people to understand that money is not unlimited?  The money has to come from somewhere, and allocating it to one project merely takes it away from another potential project.  Unless we have a plan to make money grow on trees, let's use the available funds at locations where fatal accidents are actually happening.  DOTs fund projects based on actual numbers, not philosophical arguments about expectations and embarrassment.  If my tax money went to an agency that spent millions of dollars on a project based on a hypothetical scenario drummed up in someone's imagination, while shelving a project where people were actually dying in car wrecks, then I should speak up as a responsible, concerned citizen.

Interstate standards call for full control of access, and the remedies people have been suggesting--such as outright closure, or pavement build-outs that allow these accesses to be signed as ranch exits (as on I-80 in Wyoming, for example)--hardly amount to luxurious provision.  We have engineering standards in the first place because consistent provision is in itself a benefit.  They also provide a baseline that can be used to simplify the optimization problems inherent in assigning priority to projects in a way that maximizes public benefit from limited funds.

I do not think the long-term persistence of these unpaved at-grade accesses necessarily means that TxDOT thinks it is a waste of money to do anything about them.  That might be true if it were really expensive to address them, but I suspect the marginal cost of appropriate interventions (à la Wyoming) is small enough that their inclusion in 3R/4R projects would not noticeably disturb the overall preference ordering of TxDOT projects.  I suspect that TxDOT is instead working to a playbook that basically ignores the existence of these unpaved accesses, in much the same way they (until quite recently) cared little about geometric design consistency or flowing-line aesthetics in their freeways.
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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #164 on: October 17, 2016, 11:49:50 AM »

However, the I-40 accesses in New Mexico west of Albuquerque are signed with "TEMPORARY" placards, which leads directly to the assumption that if FHWA permits these in New Mexico on the basis that they are temporary, the more or less identical accesses in Texas are permitted for the same reason.

I don't remember exactly where they were, but I recall seeing "TEMPORARY" signs at private drive access to I-40 in New Mexico back around 1997 or so.  I specifically remember them, because my dad commented, 'I wonder how temporary those really are.'  Ha!
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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #165 on: October 17, 2016, 12:02:04 PM »

Aren't the New Mexico ones gone now?
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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #166 on: October 17, 2016, 12:24:12 PM »

Aren't the New Mexico ones gone now?

I think they are still there.  I know I have seen them in person a lot more recently than the 1997 date Kyle mentions (maybe January 2005?), and I think at some point (during a previous debate on Interstate at-grades), I dug up StreetView imagery of them.  They are temporary only in the geological sense.
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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #167 on: April 13, 2018, 05:53:02 PM »

I drove Interstate 10 westbound from San Antonio to El Paso last week. I did not see any at-grade intersections on Interstate 10 east of Van Horn (which is west of the Interstate 20 merge point). However, between Van Horn and El Paso there were many signed at-grade crossings. I counted 12, but I lost count and there were probably more.

These crossings were not fully paved and striped like the crossings on IH-40 west of Amarillo. They were all gravel, but had stop signs, yield signs and one-way signs. While these gravel crossings are common everywhere, they are normally posted with signs like "For Official Use Only". But these 12+ crossings are officially open for use by anyone. I'm thinking that TxDOT realizes the crossings are being used by the public, so to promote safety they posted signage.


http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20180402_12-0111-1600.jpg


http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20180402_12-0113-1600.jpg

Plutonic Panda

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Re: At-grade intersections on Interstates in Texas
« Reply #168 on: April 13, 2018, 06:09:23 PM »

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