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San Antonio Area Freeway System
I-35 Northeast Expansion (NEX) Project

This page last updated August 15, 2019


This project has been redesigned
Previous plans to build tolled managed lanes have been dropped. New non-tolled plans have been released and this page contains the latest information about those plans as well as historical information about previous proposals. This is an interim page; more detailed information and schematics will be added soon.

Below is information about current expansion plans the history of previous plans to add managed lanes to I-35.

Project status

With the toll component for previous proposed expansions of I-35 removed in 2018 (see history below), TxDOT is now planning to expand I-35 by adding non-tolled express lanes and HOV lanes from AT&T Center Pkwy. to FM 1103. The new lanes will be elevated (double-decked) south of FM 3009 and be at-grade from there to FM 1103.

Unlike the double-decked freeways downtown, the upper levels on this project will be express lanes, meaning there will be limited entrances and exits between FM 1103 and downtown San Antonio. New flyovers will connect the upper levels to Loop 1604, Pat Booker Rd., Loop 410 North, and Loop 410 South. There will also be an intermediate access point with ramps connecting the elevated lanes to the mainlanes near Schertz Pkwy (southbound entrance to express lanes, northbound exit from express lanes.) The intent for the new lanes is to provide an express corridor for longer-distance through traffic; this will benefit lower level by removing that long distance traffic from those lanes.

The project will also include multiple ramp revisions and frontage road improvements, as well as new overpasses and intersection improvements at Wiederstein Rd. and at FM 2252. Access to adjacent properties will generally stay the same as it is now.

Crossovers between the two upper levels will be provided for emergency access at three locations in the corridor: between Eisenhauer and Walzem, near O'Connor, and near Olympia Pkwy.

Currently planned cross-section for most of I-35 NEX project

Current funding constraints will require the project to be divided into multiple phases. Funding is currently available for the section from Loop 410 North to FM 3009, including the new connectors to Loop 410 North and to Loop 1604 to the west of I-35. The remaining segments-- from Loop 410 to AT&T Center Parkway and from FM 3009 to FM 1103-- are currently unfunded. TxDOT and the MPO are working to obtain additional funding for those segments. TxDOT applied for federal INFRA grant for this project, but it was not selected to be funded. Additional state funding for the project will be considered by the Texas Transportation Commission in late August. If additional funding is obtained, the project phasing will likely change.

Project history

In 1996, a Major Investment Study of the I-35 northeast corridor recommended barrier-separated express lanes, truck lanes, and/or HOV lanes. However, acute funding shortages in the early 2000s caused this plan to be shelved. In 2009, the Alamo Area Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) resurrected the plan as a secondary phase for a local tollway system. Under this plan, the new lanes would be built as tolled managed lanes. As the plan was further fleshed-out, it was determined that the new lanes would need to be elevated along most of the route from downtown to the FM 1103 area. The environmental study for this project was completed in 2015.

Around that time, tolling became deprecated both locally and statewide as the legislature and citizens approved new funding sources for highways. As a result, the various local planned toll projects were successively "de-tolled" as new funding sources were identified for them. Tolls were removed from the I-35 project in June 2018.

What is a managed lane?

A managed lane is a lane where the operational strategies of the lane are adjusted in real-time as required to ensure that the lane remains free-flowing, thus providing for a guaranteed travel time for users of the lane. For example, toll rates or vehicle occupancy requirements may fluctuate based on traffic conditions or time of day. Typically, managed lanes allow toll-free access for buses, carpools, and emergency vehicles while single-occupancy vehicles (i.e. solo drivers) can use the lane by paying a variable-rate toll.

How is this beneficial? Besides providing a clear way for public transportation and emergency vehicles, it also gives commuters who want or need to get where they're going faster an opportunity to bypass congestion by paying a toll to use any excess capacity of the lane. Every motorist who opts to do so removes one more vehicle from the toll-free lanes which can help ease congestion. The resulting toll revenue helps to subsidize for the road, saving scarce tax dollars for other needed projects.

Other sites of interest

TxDOT Northeast San Antonio Project

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This page and all its contents are Copyright 2019 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.