Home | About me | Contact | What's new
 

San Antonio
Freeway system
  Primer
  History
  2015 traffic statistics
  Freeways
    I-10 East
    I-10 West
    I-35 North
    I-35 South
    I-37
    Kelly Pkwy
    Loop 410 (I-410)
    Loop 1604
    SH 151
    Spur 371
    US 90 West
    US 281 North
    Wurzbach Pkwy
  Construction projects
    I-10/Fair Oaks
    I-10/HOV
    I-10/Leon Springs
    I-10/Woodlake
    I-35/Loop 410
    LP 1604/Bandera
    LP 1604/Kitty Hawk
    LP 1604/Potranco
    LP 1604/US 90
    SH 151/LP 1604
    SH 151/Loop 410
    US 281 North
    US 90/Loop 410
  Etcetera
    HOV lanes
    Media galleries
    Tollway system
      Loop 1604 tollway
    TransGuide
    10/1604 yield signs
    History of 281/410
Other roads & more
FAQs


Twitter

Facebook

Blog

ADVERTISEMENT

San Antonio Area Freeway System
History of the Loop 410/US 281 Interchange

This page last updated April 28, 2010

On the morning of June 9th, 2008, the final two ramps in the new $154.7 million, fully-directional interchange at US 281 and Loop 410 next to San Antonio International Airport opened, marking the end of an era in San Antonio's freeway history.

Prior to the interchange's construction, motorists wanting to go from Loop 410 to US 281 or vice-versa were left to navigate overburdened surface street and access road connections.  This intersection was often cited as the only place in Texas where two major urban freeways crossed without direct connections between them.  As a result, traffic frequently queued on Airport Blvd. and the westbound 410 access road as drivers negotiated their way between the freeways.  Only one of the turns required no interaction with a traffic signal; all of the remaining directions required motorists to pass through at least one signalized intersection.  While many people simply blamed this traffic nightmare on poor planning, the real story, as is often the case, is not that simple.

When planning for the North Expressway (US 281) was going on in the late '50s and early '60s, there were heated debates over the route that the new freeway should take.  After evaluating several routes including San Pedro and Broadway, a route skirting Brackenridge Park, slipping between the Zoo and Alamo Stadium, and continuing north over the Olmos Basin was chosen.  This route also caused great protest, but construction on the northern and southern thirds of the freeway began anyway.  Opponents of the route got a federal court order halting construction on the grounds that the freeway violated a new federal rule prohibiting freeways from crossing parklands and that the freeway would cause great disturbance to the animals at the zoo.  Meanwhile, the City of San Antonio, which had been charged with obtaining the right-of-way for the project, was in the midst of condemning land for a planned 410/281 interchange.  The injunction stopping the freeway construction caused the City, uncertain as to the future of the project, to stop dead in its tracks as well.  The court battle dragged on for several years and before long, with development booming along the Loop, owners of the condemned property demanded that the City either buy the land or release it from condemnation.  Since the freeway seemed doomed at the time, the City lifted the condemnation and new buildings sprang-up at the interchange site almost overnight.  When the lawsuit was settled and the freeway eventually did come through several years later, the cost of the land was prohibitively expensive and the interchange was scrapped. (For more information on the history of 281, see my US 281 North page.)


Proposed US 281/Loop 410 interchange
This conceptual diagram, from the 1964 San Antonio expressway plan, shows that an interchange
at Loop 410 and US 281 next to the airport was indeed planned.


Until the mid '80s, traffic volumes were low enough to allow relatively easy access between the freeways using access roads and adjacent surface streets.  By the early 1990s, however, traffic volumes began to severely overload this arrangement.  To fix the problem, TxDOT began design work on a four-level interchange.  Several preparatory projects in the vicinity were undertaken in the mid and late '90s including the widening 410 between McCullough and Jones-Maltsberger and the placement of most of the future ramp pylon pedestals along that stretch.  The US 281 overpasses over Loop 410 were also rebuilt and a couple of strategic turnarounds added.  Additionally, a ramp from northbound US 281 directly into the airport terminal area was built.  This ramp was proposed and funded separately by the airport and the FAA and was inserted into the overall interchange construction plan by TxDOT.

After several years of uncertainty over funding, the state finally funded the entire project in late 2004.  The project was originally scheduled to be built in five phases over ten years.  However, new funding mechanisms from the legislature allowed the phases to be combined, saving a considerable amount of time and money.  That consolidated project-- the largest single highway construction project ever awarded in San Antonio-- was then projected to take five years to build, but the contractor promised to build it in just over three years.  Work continued almost non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the first ramp to be completed, from 281 southbound to 410 westbound, opened to traffic on the afternoon of June 18th, 2007.  Several additional ramps opened in the months thereafter and the final two ramps, from both directions of US 281 to eastbound Loop 410, opened less than a year later on the morning of June 9th, 2008, marking the the end of the storied non-interchange.




If you found this informative, please consider making a small donation to help support it. Thanks!
This page and all its contents are Copyright 2017 by Brian Purcell

NOTICE
The information provided on this website is provided on an "as-is" basis without warranties of any kind either express or implied.  The author and his agents make no warranties or representations of any kind concerning any information contained in this website.  This website is provided only as general information.  The author expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based upon the information contained herein or with respect to any errors or omissions in such information.  All opinions expressed are strictly those of the author.  This site is not affiliated in any way with any official agency.