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Race spokesperson presents traffic plan for Sunday race

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Dennis Smith, Spokesperson for the Fiesta L’Etape San Antonio by Tour de France, presented a plan or the race that will come through Bandera County this Sunday, April 10th.

Smith anticipates between 1,100 and 1,200 riders to come through both the county and the city, less than the estimated 1,800 given to the Bandera County Commissioners’ Court on March 24.

We’ll see the first group of riders coming through Bandera probably around 10:30 am. There will literally be miles of cyclists, so the traffic management will be operated similar to a 5K race or a parade.” said Smith.

Roads used for the race will remain open, but they will be managed.

There will be off-duty police officers from other cities and some from Bandera County that have signed up. Officers from Bandera County are given the first opportunity to sign on because they are the most familiar with the area and the roads – it is what the organizers prefer. The organizers will then fill the gap with contracted officers until they have the amount needed. 

Race organizers will begin putting up signage and barricade structures today through the early morning of race day. There will be water stations and rest stops along the entire planned route.

Staring Sunday, riders will depart from UTSA up I-10, turning onto Highway 46, then up Highway 16 toward Bandera. Once in town, they will turn left at Main St. There will be a station at the City Park with food, water, and porta-potties for the cyclists. Per Smith, the serious riders will ride on through, grabbing water only.

Then the cyclists will travel south on Rt 173, turn left at Wharton’s Dock, travel to Rodeo Rd. and turn left, ride up to English Crossing and turn right, then navigate the narrow roads over to 1283, where they’ll turn right and travel south through Lakehills to Culebra Rd/471, where they’ll turn left and head back towards San Antonio and finish back at UTSA.

Smith said approvals for rolling road/lane closures will be in place by TXDoT with the following conditions:

  • Approved engineered Traffic Plans submitted to TXDoT by Buyers Barricades, an approved TXDoT vendor
  • Safety/Medical Plans
  • Sustainability Plan
  • TAAP Public Safety contacted to supply PD Officers at controlled and uncontrolled intersections per state law. Officers will temporarily stop traffic temporarily to allow cycle traffic to pass through intersections without stopping
  • Motorists can expect minor delays and diversions
  • Timing matrixes are listed for approximate times first and last riders will be passing through at various checkpoints
  • There are six aid stations located throughout the three courses
  • Private EMC services have been contracted and will be located at all aid stations at venue site and roaming the course
  • Numerous course vehicles will be roaming sections of the course maintaining a safe ride
  • Participants are briefed this I NOT a closed course and live traffic will be present and to govern themselves accordingly

 

Smith’s plan presented to the council earlier this week outlined the following traffic situations:

Hwy 16 to Main Street (173 of 689)

  • Passing lane areas on Hwy 16 will have cones to divide traffic
  • Message Board in place coming up the intersection light
  • Cones to divide traffic for the left-handed turn at the light
  • Two officers will be working this intersection

Main Street (173 of 689) to Wharton’s Dock Rd

  • Left-handed turn onto Whartons Doc Rd
  • Officer and signage to slow and hold traffic for the bikers

Rodeo Rd to English Crossing

  • Road Closure pushing all traffic north on to Bottle Spring
  • Officer at the intersection for the duration of bikers
  • Right-handed turn onto English Crossing

English Crossing to FM 1283

  • Right-handed turn onto FM 1283
  • Advance warning signs at intersection in all directions
  • Officer to help hold and slow traffic down

FM 1283 to FM 471

  • Left-handed turn onto FM 471
  • Advance warning signs at the intersection in all directions
  • Officer to help hold and slow traffic down

FM 471 to FM 211

  • Left-handed turn onto FM 471
  • Advance warning signs at intersection in all directions
  • Officer to help hold and slow traffic down

 

This is an official event sponsored and run by the Tour de France, the largest spectator event in the world, according to Smith. This is also a Fiesta San Antonio event.

“The Tour de France consists of 21 different stages in 21 days of racing. There are 24 of these races around the world. This is the only one in the United States,” said Smith, who added the Hill Country of Texas was chosen due to how its terrain simulates 16 to 18 climbing stages of the Tour De France.

“This is a world class event and it is just absolutely big time. It will be on national TV.” added Smith.

The event was announced via a press release in October 2021.

Officials from San Antonio Sports, the city’s nonprofit sports commission, were joined by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Judge Nelson Wolff, Michael Brown of MB Events, members of the Fiesta Commission, cycling and fitness communities to announce the course for L’Étape San Antonio and UTSA as the site of Fiesta FitFest presented by H-E-B,” read the release.

Councilwoman, Darcy Hasty, expressed dissatisfaction that the council and perhaps many citizens are only hearing of this event five days before it will occur.

According to Smith and Bandera Marshal Will Dietrich, conversations began in February with city officials, one of whom was the recently resigned City Administrator, David Jordan.

The Council requested a Facility Use Agreement and a Certificate of Insurance be provided to the city as soon as possible.

Still, there is concern that not enough of the Bandera Community knows about this race with less than a week to inform them. One meeting goer fretted that not everyone reads the paper or uses social media.

At the March 24 Commissioner’s Court, both Sheriff Butts and the Commissioners expressed reservations about the massive cycling event and requested a complete comprehensive plan for the event that specified traffic control plans and collaboration between the event sources and the County’s law enforcement and EMS.

After that meeting, Smith provided the official Operations Manual to the court, then to City Council.

Sheriff Butts then submitted a letter to TxDOT stressing that due to narrow county roads, lack of improved shoulders and vehicular traffic, all traffic rules are to be followed and extreme caution be used. He added that all riders should be fully aware that the route will not be free of traffic and that they will be sharing the road with vehicles.