Traffic update for Helotes and Bandera Road

Monday, March 26, today the warning period ends. If you are using the shoulder along southbound Bandera Road to turn right onto Leslie Road, you could receive a traffic ticket. State law prohibits driving along the shoulder of the road.

Although the shoulder of the road is wide enough to accommodate a moving vehicle, it is a shoulder. For years to combat heavy traffic, made worse by a high school and elementary school located in the same area, drivers have been violating the law by traveling down the shoulder and turning right onto Leslie.

Due to safety concerns, Helotes police officers started patrolling the area during school hours last week and issued warnings to those traveling on the shoulder.

Full enforcement including issuing citations is scheduled to begin this week.

1560

Progress is being made at the 1560 and Circle A area. This intersection is scheduled to be open on May 1. Calls have been placed to the City of Helotes and TxDot to inquire if this will change or alter the parade route for Cornyval.

“For those in Helotes, Cornyval Parade is like their Final Four,” said Josh Donat, TxDot spokesman. “I will be visiting with City Hall and work with them regarding the parade route.”

For those new to the discussion here are the changes for this particular area and interchange. Drivers will no longer be allowed to turn left at Circle A and 1560 from northbound or southbound traffic.

If drivers want to turn left onto Circle A from southbound traffic the driver must travel up to a turn around at Finck’s Cigars. Then travel down to Circle A to turn into the subdivision. This crossover will be controlled by a traffic signal.

If you are traveling northbound on Bandera Road and are wanting to turn left onto 1560 you will have to travel to the crossover that will be located past Bobby J’s restaurant cross over and travel down to the new 1560 entrance located by 2 Fat Boys.

Helotes police officers are issuing tickets to drivers attempting left turns at this intersection (Hwy 1560 and Circle A) now. Helotes PD has responded to 22 accidents at this location in the last month.

Starting April 2, drivers will no longer be able to travel across Circle A and turn left onto Bandera Road. Construction crews will close this intersection to only allow thru traffic only. This is to prepare the drivers for the coming changes at the end of the month. Drivers leaving Circle A Drive will only be allowed to turn right (northbound) and travel to the crossover and complete the left turn to travel southbound on Bandera Road. There will not be a traffic light at this turn around located past the old Ohh La La building.

Drivers will no longer be able to cut through the Valero or CVS parking lots turn left onto Circle A and then turn left onto Bandera Road from Circle A.

Drivers traveling along 1560 hoping to travel straight into the subdivision or turn left at Circle A Drive and Hwy 1560 intersection will be required to turn left (southbound) onto Bandera Road complete the turn around or cross over at the Comerica Bank to travel northbound down Bandera Road.

This also means that fire trucks and emergency personnel leaving City Hall traveling to the Circle A area or wanting to travel northbound down Bandera Road will also have to travel to the turn around (crossover) at Comerica Bank to reach northbound Bandera Road.

This turn around (crossover) will not be regulated by a traffic signal.

This intersection has been left open to for the convenience of the local drivers and to make it easier for police and fire to reach northbound Bandera Road. However, with the intersection opening May 1 TxDot wanted drivers to become use to the new flow of traffic.

The new changes in traffic with the crossovers and the light signals have the potential to affect the parade because in the past, Bandera road has been turned into a two-way road along the northbound lanes. This could be prevented because of the new crossovers and flow of traffic. As the City and TxDot develop their solutions we will post updates.

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3 Comments

  1. James

    If HPD us going to give tickets for driving on the shoulder then they need to have a posted sign stateing that. I remember they were giving tickets for u turns but it didnt hold up in court because there were no signage stating no u turn.

  2. Brian Purcell

    Actually, state law is not clear that driving on the shoulder to pass stopped traffic to turn right is illegal and there’s a strong case to be made that it is legal:

    Sec. 545.058. DRIVING ON IMPROVED SHOULDER. (a) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway if that operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only:
    (4) to pass another vehicle that is slowing or stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn;

    In this situation, people are passing vehicles stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway. Furthermore, there is no limitation on how far one can driver on the shoulder if doing so. The key word seems to be “necessary”, but that’s highly subjective and not defined in the code. And allowing those people to use the shoulder to turn right reduces the congestion for everyone. But don’t take my word for it:
    https://www.statesman.com/news/local/driving-the-shoulder-approach-right-turn-lane-legal/J6KMMHVDh0jGy0Vg29HxwL/

    I don’t say this often, but it sounds like the City of Helotes is out to make a buck on this one.

  3. Brian Purcell

    So as it turns-out, there is case law that settles what “necessary” means in this statue. In Lothrop vs. The State of Texas (2012), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (which is the supreme court in Texas for criminal cases) ruled that “necessary” had to be taken in context of the seven permissible reasons listed in the statute. In other words, if you have to use the shoulder to pass a vehicle stopped in the main lane (as opposed to passing them on the left, for example), then it is considered “necessary” under the law. Furthermore, the ruling said that the seven reasons are not considered “affirmative defenses”; that is, that an officer cannot cite you and make you go to court to use one of them as a defense.

    That still leaves “safely” open to interpretation. Again, the statute does not define what this means. If the shoulder is clear of obstructions and one is traveling slowly and there is no collision (which would be prima facie evidence of it being unsafe), it would be hard for a prosecutor to argue that it wasn’t being done “safely”. What’s a safe speed? 20 mph would seem to be safe to me– after all, if it’s safe enough for a school zone, it’s certainly safe enough for passing stopped vehicles.

    From where I sit, the City of Helotes is on *really* shaky ground with this. If someone from the city is reading this, I’d like to hear from them on how they believe they can legally enforce this.

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