June 19, 2013
Attention: Vickie Crnich
125 E. 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701-2483
RE: Comments on the US 281 Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Dear Ms. Crnich:
The North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, representing almost 1400 business entities, has been a continued supporter of added capacity improvements along the US 281 corridor from Loop 1604 to Borgfeld Road. While the completion of the US 281 Super Street eased congestion slightly, we are seeing congestion at unacceptable levels once again during early morning and evening drive times.
Traffic volumes have increased significantly along US 281 in recent years and are expected to continue growing at a rapid pace. According to TxDOT and MPO data, the portion of US 281 0.3 miles north of Loop 1604 saw Average Daily Traffic (ADT) of 133,000 in 2010. ATD will rise to 205,000 by 2035.
Employment growth along the corridor has also risen from 3,312 in 1980 to 25,635 in 2005, and is projected to increase to an estimated 43,635 in 2035. Also, according to an analysis conducted by the SA-Bexar County MPO, the number of residents living in census tracts adjacent to the portion of US 281 that is being studied will reach 142,240 by 2035, an increase of 93 percent from 2005.
Of the three alternatives under consideration in the Draft EIS, we feel the No-Build Alternative should be rejected as it will not address future growth and congestion. Additionally, the No-Build Alternative fails to address safety and air quality concerns resulting from increased congestion.
The two proposed Build Alternatives address growth that has either already occurred or is likely to occur, and the North San Antonio Chamber supports moving forward with one of the Build Alternatives.
Regarding the issue of funding, we have actively supported use of available federal, state, and local funding to build new non-toll lanes. However, based on recent Congressional and Legislature inaction on transportation funding, the outlook for additional funding for added capacity projects locally and statewide appears minimal at best. In the absence of such funding, we support moving forward with the project through either managed lane and/or toll funding approaches.
On behalf of the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, we thank you for the opportunity to provide comments as part of the US 281 Draft Environmental Impact statement.
E. Duane Wilson
President & CEO