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San Antonio
Freeway system
  2015 traffic statistics
    I-10 East
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    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/Leon Springs
    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
    HOV lanes
    Media galleries
    Tollway system
      Loop 1604 tollway
    10/1604 yield signs
    History of 281/410
Other roads & more





San Antonio Freeway System

This page last updated May 3, 2017

Animated freeway history map
Below is the best history of the San Antonio area freeway system that I can assemble.  The information on this page was compiled from various sources including old city maps, newspaper articles, and an array of highway plans and documents.  Many thanks to the San Antonio Central Library Texana section for their assistance in locating those materials.

This page covers the history of the expansion of the overall system and not capacity expansions on individual freeways.  Details of those capacity and reconstruction projects are available on the individual freeway pages elsewhere on this site.

For other historical maps and photos, see the photo gallery page.

For historical photos and maps, see the media galleries.


San Antonio began to plan and develop its freeway system during World War II and was one of four cities with a Texas Highway Department Urban Expressways division.  Maps from the mid 1940s show "Interstate Highways and Expressways for post-war construction."  In plans and news reports, the routes were interchangeably referred to as expressways, urban expressways, and interregional highways.  In the subsequent decades, numerous freeway plans were proposed.  Not all of them were implemented, but most were, leading to the system that is in place today.  Below are maps and descriptions of the system (both completed and proposed) at various points during the last 70 years.  The years chosen were those for which I could find definitive information.

Early freeways here replaced existing US and State Highways and initially carried those route numbers.  It wasn't until the early and mid '60s that Interstate shields began appearing on local freeways.  For consistency and ease of reference, I refer to the current route designation of the roadways in the discussions below.  For reference, here is a list of the early highway designations, including the state highway designation that preceded the US route number as well as the pre-freeway routing of those roads.

US 87 SH 9 SH 27 Fredericksburg Rd., N. Flores St.
US 90 SH 3 E. Commerce St.
US 81 SH 2 Broadway, Austin Hwy., Randolph Blvd.
US 81 SH 2 S. Alamo St., Nogalitos St., New Laredo Hwy.
I-37 US 181 SH 16 S. Presa St.
US 90
US 90 SH 3 W. Commerce St., Old Hwy 90 W, Kriewald Rd.
US 281
US 281 SH 66 San Pedro Ave.
N/A LP 13 LP 410 Today's I-410 east of NW Military Hwy. to Austin Hwy., then south along today's I-35N to WW White Rd., then along today's routing of WW White Rd. and SE/SW Military Dr. (LP 13) to US 90W.


Pre-1945 map
Map legend

During the construction of San Antonio's freeway system, several existing sections of US and State routes in the outlying areas were upgraded to freeways.  The maps on this page show those sections in dark gray as "pre-freeway" roadways until the time they're upgraded.


1945 map
Map legend

Maps from the mid 1940s show the earliest proposal for an "Urban Expressway" network.  That proposal included today's "Downtown Y" sections of I-10 and I-35 as well as the entire route of today's I-35 North.  I-35 South was proposed to follow Nogalitos from its intersection with present-day I-35 down to New Laredo Hwy., then south along that roadway to its present-day intersection with I-35, then south along present-day I-35 from there.  I-10 West was proposed to roughly follow the rail line from downtown to NW Bexar County.  I-10 East was proposed to approach the city along the present day I-10, then run along a northwest diagonal route from near WW White to I-35 near Walters St.  Today's Loop 410 between NW Military Hwy. and Austin Hwy. was already in place as a four lane highway and was part of the larger Loop 13.


1952 map
Map legend

The city's first freeway, a 0.7 mile section of I-10 West from Fredericksburg at Woodlawn to Culebra St., opened quietly in mid-July 1949.  On November 28, 1949, a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Colorado St. overpass celebrated the official opening of that segment along with the second segment stretching from Culebra to Frio St. (which at the time was Comal St.)  A year later, the freeway was extended from Frio to Martin where it merged into Pecos St. going southbound and San Saba St. coming northbound.  I-35 South from Guadalupe to Nogalitos opened in late 1952.

The proposal for the northern end of I-10 West had now been modified to jog further to the west, meeting Fredericksburg Rd. near Huebner.  The I-35 South proposal had been modified to use today's alignment as far south as Zarzamora, then to proceed toward the west to New Laredo Hwy., then south from there.  The I-10 East proposal was unchanged.  A proposal to extend Loop 410 to the west of NW Military Hwy. would have routed it to the intersection of Callaghan and Fredericksburg.


1957 map
Map legend

Big parts of today's freeway system were planned or under construction by 1957.  I-35 had been completed from Guadalupe north to Broadway and was under construction south to Division.  The first section of Loop 410, from Culebra to Bandera, opened in 1956, followed the next year by the section from Fredericksburg to McCullough.  Loop 410 from Bandera to Fredericksburg, McCullough to Broadway, and Culebra to US 90 were under construction.

The latest proposals for I-10 West and I-35 South were for the alignments that would eventually be built.  The originally proposed routing for I-10 East inside Loop 410 had been scrapped, but no alternative had yet been made public.


1959 map
Map legend

The western half of Loop 410 was now either complete or under construction.  I-35 was complete south to Division Ave. and was under construction south to Zarzamora and north to Artesia Rd. (now AT&T Center Pkwy.)  I-10 West was now under construction from Woodlawn to just north of Huebner.


1961 map
Map legend

Substantial sections of freeway were now open to traffic.  The western arc of Loop 410, from Broadway around to I-35 South, was complete.  However, only the section of 410 from I-10 West to I-35 South carried the Interstate 410 shield; the section east of I-10 was marked as State Loop 410 because it did not yet meet Interstate standards.  I-35 north of the town of Fratt was now open, and I-35 South was complete as far as Zarzamora.  I-10 West was now complete from Woodlawn north to where it joined with the existing US 87 (Fredericksburg Rd.) just north of Huebner.  Construction was underway to close the gap on I-35 North and to complete I-35 South to the county line.  The section of I-10 East from Houston St. eastward was also under construction as was most of Loop 410 on the Southside.  Finally, the first sections of the two-lane FM 1604 were now complete between I-10 West and US 281.

I-37 made its first appearance as a proposed freeway and the present-day routing of I-10 East inside of Loop 410 as well as the remainder of Loop 410 on the southeast side were finally on the drawing board as well.  


1964 map
Map legend

With federal Interstate Highway funding now pouring-in, freeway construction and planning in San Antonio was proceeding at a fevered pitch.  Virtually all of the freeways that were proposed in 1957 were now complete or nearing completion.  In 1962, I-35 had become the first metropolitan Interstate in Texas to be fully completed.  I-10 West was now under construction from Fredericksburg Rd. to Leon Springs.  I-10 East was complete east of Houston St.  Loop 410 on the Southside had been extended from I-35 east to Roosevelt, and most of the eastern arc from WW White to I-35 North was complete as well.  The first section of a newly proposed freeway, US 90 West, was just starting construction.  Additional sections of the two-lane FM 1604 were now complete across the Northside from Bandera Rd. to I-10 East.

Additional routes were now on the drawing boards including Spur 371 (the "Kelly Access Freeway", now General Hudnell Dr.) and the never-built Bandera Freeway.  The projected route for it was along Bandera Rd. starting at Huebner, crossing Loop 410, then shifting slightly west of Bandera Rd. and continuing southeast nearly to Guadalupe, then east to I-35 and along today's Cesar Chavez to I-37, then east and northeast to end at Commerce between Hackberry and New Braunfels Ave.  The first proposal of what would be a very controversial freeway, the North Expressway (US 281 North), was also now public.  Two small freeway connectors, neither of which were ever built, were planned for the North Expressway: San Pedro Ave. north of Loop 410 to US 281 would have been upgraded to a freeway, and The St. Mary's Connector, running parallel to St. Mary's St., would have connected US 281 to I-35 just north of downtown.  It would have also featured a downtown feeder spur in conjunction with elaborate distribution ramps for the other freeways surrounding downtown.  


1967 map
Map legend

Freeway construction continued to move forward full-steam in preparation for the 1968 World's Fair ("HemisFair").  By 1967, the bulk of today's freeway system was complete or under construction.  All of Loop 410 was now done, but the section from I-10 West to I-35 North still carried the State Loop 410 designation; it would not see an Interstate 410 shield until mid-1969.  The first section of US 90 West as far as Cupples was open as was the section from Loop 410 to today's Old Hwy. 90.  SP 371 was also complete.  I-37 was under construction from Florida St. to US 181.  All of the two-lane FM 1604 north of US 90 was now complete as well.  

The Bandera Freeway proposal was unchanged, but the two connector proposals for the North Expressway appear to have been scrapped by this time.


1968 map
Map legend

As HemisFair opened, most of the city's freeway system was in place.  All of I-10 and I-35 was open.  US 90 West was complete to Loop 410, and I-37 between Florida St. and SE Military was done.  The section of I-37 between Florida St. and I-35 was under construction and was temporarily paved and used for parking for the fair.


1973 map
Map legend

The early 1970s saw lots of controversy over the proposed US 281 North and, to a lesser extent, the Bandera Freeway.  Work on the undisputed northern and southern parts of US 281 had begun in 1969, but was suspended in 1971 while the matter was debated in court.  In late 1973, Congress allowed the state and city to complete the freeway without federal funding and work resumed on the original projects.  

Meanwhile, the original Bandera Freeway route had been scrapped due to city officials' concerns about its path through an urban renewal area.  A new proposal (now being called the "Hill Country Expressway") routed the freeway along Culebra from I-10 to Loop 1604 instead.  In addition, an "inner-city bypass" freeway was proposed for the near West Side; it would have followed the railroad tracks from I-10 and Culebra to US 90 at Zarzamora.  Its purpose was to provide a connection to Kelly AFB from the West and Northwest sides and ease worsening congestion along the original "Downtown-Y" freeways.  Amid the controversies, I-37 had been completed downtown and south to US 181 and work had started from there south to the Loop 1604 area.


1979 map
Map legend

The fierce controversy over US 281 North was finally over and the freeway opened in 1978.  However, the Hill Country Expressway proposal had been scrapped by this time.  The last sections of FM 1604 south of the city were now under construction, and the road would soon be renamed Loop 1604.


1984 map
Map legend

By the mid '80s, growth was approaching the northern sections of Loop 1604.  As a result, an upgrade of the loop to a freeway was underway I-10 West to US 281 North and around I-35 North, and was planned between US 281 and I-35. 


1987 map
Map legend

The Loop 1604 upgrade from I-10 to US 281 was done as was the Loop 1604/I-35 North interchange, and work was progressing to upgrade 1604 between US 281 and I-35.  Plans to upgrade US 281 north of Bitters to Loop 1604 were announced, and the access roads for SH 151 outside Loop 410 were under construction (not indicated on map).


1990 map
Map legend

The most heavily traveled sections of Loop 1604 across the Northside had now been upgraded to a freeway, ending the days of the "Death Loop", so-called because of the high number of fatal accidents that had occurred along it.  Plans were now in the works to extend the western end of the freeway south to Bandera Rd.  Work to upgrade US 281 North between Bitters and Loop 1604 was completed in record time, and the SH 151 access roads were now complete along its entire route.  Initial proposals for an "East-West Parkway"-- subsequently named Wurzbach Parkway-- to relieve traffic on Loops 410 and 1604 had been announced.


2000 map
Map legend

At the dawn of the new millennium, short sections of freeway mainlanes had been added to SH 151 at Potranco, Pinn, and Old Highway 90, and the freeway mainlanes from Old Highway 90 to Callaghan were under construction.  Proposals to finish the SH 151 freeway were now on the books.  Also, an overpass on Loop 1604 at Kitty Hawk built in the early '90s essentially extended that freeway east to FM 78.  On the western end, Loop 1604 had been upgraded to a freeway from John Peace to Bandera Rd.  The first section of the Wurzbach Parkway was open from Wetmore to O'Connor and the segment Lockhill-Selma and NW Military Hwy. was nearing completion.


2005 map
Map legend

Work to finally build all the mainlanes of SH 151 had been completed by 2005.  Wurzbach Parkway was done now from Lockhill-Selma to Blanco Rd. and plans were on the books to finish the remaining segments.  Initial plans to upgrade US 281 to a freeway north of Loop 1604 to Stone Oak Parkway were announced in the early 2000s.  Plans to build it as a tollway created a storm of controversy that has delayed it indefinitely.

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This page and all its contents are Copyright 2017 by Brian Purcell

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.