After nearly three years of construction a first-for-San Antonio intersection on the city’s Northeast side will grant San Antonio drivers more green light time and fewer delays, starting Tuesday.

Previously, if drivers wanted to access Harry Wurzbach or Austin Highway they had to drive through nearby business parking lots, including H-E-B, Lowes and Astro SuperBowl, said city spokeswoman Laura Mayes.

The solution, Texas Department of Transportation and the City of San Antonio found, was to build a single-point urban interchange, or SPUI.

SPUIs operate with a single, three-phased traffic signal at high traffic volume intersections and are meant to enhance safety, mobility, connectivity and frontage road traffic flow, according to TxDOT.

First constructed in the early 1970s, SPUIs are used most often in tight right-of-way situations. In a more typical diamond interchange, the stream of left-turning traffic crosses each other; in a SPUI, the stream of left-turning traffic does not.

That helps the SPUI reduce potential crash points while allowing more cars to move through the intersection, meaning drivers will experience fewer delays.

SPUIs also generally include well-marked sidewalks, which increases pedestrian safety and better accommodates bicyclists.

The project has been under construction since March 2020, and was funded by the 2017 bond. According to the 2017 bond dashboard, it had a price tag of just over $722,000.

A rendering illustrates what it's like driving in a single-point urban interchange.
A rendering illustrates what it’s like driving through a single point urban interchange, or SPUI. Credit: Courtesy / TxDOT

“Anyone who has lived in San Antonio for any significant time knows how difficult it was to drive from Austin Highway and try to access Harry Wurzbach,” said City Manager Erik Walsh.

The new intersection will feature an elevated interchange with ramps so that drivers can access Harry Wurzbach and Austin Highway. Drivers turning left at the intersection will no longer need to wait for the green arrow signal to turn and the traffic signals at the interchange will allow for opposing directions to turn left simultaneously. 

If necessary, city staff will monitor the traffic signals, and will tweak the light timing to maximize efficiency at the intersection based on actual traffic.

“This new, innovatively designed intersection makes navigating Harry Wurzbach and Austin Highway significantly easier and faster. I’d like to thank TxDOT for their partnership and wish our residents safe and smooth travels,” Walsh said. 

There aren’t other SPUIs planned in other parts of the city for now.

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.