Antonio Area Freeway System
State Loop 1604 (Charles W. Anderson Loop)
|This page last updated June 19, 2019
||This page covers the freeway segment of Loop 1604
across North San Antonio from FM 78 in Converse to US 90 West. The
remainder of the 95 mile loop is non-freeway, most of which is a
two-lane rural road.
Length: 39 miles
it was built
1960s, it would have been hard to fathom that Loop 1604 North would
become the busy
that it is today. While the southern half remains in its
configuration as a two-lane rural state highway, the northern
been expanded to a four-lane freeway. Loop
1604 forms the
Antonio's two beltways and the freeway portion serves Randolph AFB,
the forthcoming Live Oak Town Center development, Rolling
Oaks Mall, the Stone Oak area, Camp Bullis, the University of Texas at
San Antonio's (UTSA) main campus, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Shops at
Cantera and the La Cantera development, The Rim development, the
headquarters campus for Valero
Energy, the Alamo Ranch area, Sea World, the Westover
Hills area, and the suburban cities of Converse, Universal City, Live
Selma, Hollywood Park, Shavano Park, and Helotes. The
increasingly dense suburban residential areas with some moderate to
commercial development, especially near I-35, US 281,
Blanco Rd., I-10, Bandera
Rd., and Culebra/SH 151. The area outside 1604 from Bandera Rd. to US
is expected to add 200,000 people by 2030.
is currently only
half of a
fully directional interchange at US 281. Motorists must use
access roads and a
signalized three-level interchange to access US 281 north of
1604. Work to
construct the remaining four ramps of the interchange is underway and
expected to be complete by 2020. Cloverleaf interchanges exist at I-10
I-35. There is a single flyover connector from
southbound Loop 1604 to eastbound SH 151 as well as from southbound Loop 1604
to US 90 eastbound.
||Loop 1604 is sometimes mistakenly referred
to as FM 1604. However, it is correctly titled Loop 1604; FM
1604 is in North Texas. (See the History
section below for more info.)
- 4 lanes (2 x 2) along entire
- Continuous access roads along all of route except:
- East of Pat Booker (NB) and east of Kitty
- At I-35
- At the railroad tracks between Nacogdoches and
- Northbound through the SH 151 interchange
for a list of Loop 1604 exits.
- 70 mph from Nacogdoches to SH
- 65 mph from Pat Booker to FM 78
SPECIAL FEATURES &
- TransGuide coverage from
Lockhill-Selma to US 90 West
- Five at-grade turnoffs
('right-on, right-off") with no median crossover in Universal City (soon to be removed)
- Partial directional interchanges
at US 281, SH 151, and US 90 West
- VIA Metropolitan Transit University Park
& Ride located under I-10 interchange
- Carpool parking area on
northbound ramp to/from FM 78
- Unusual yield sign arrangement
at I-10 interchange; click here
for more information
1604 experienced ridiculously blistering traffic growth during the
1990s with average AADT counts up well over 300% along nearly the
entire route, and up nearly 800% near Bandera Rd. However,
has moderated substantially during the past decade. Recently, the
section near FM 78 has seen a significant spike. Generally,
volume is moderate to heavy along entire route. Recurring congestion
occurs during morning
evening peak periods between Bandera Rd. and US 281.
ANNUAL DAILY TRAFFIC
|E of FM 78
|W of FM 78
|S of Pat Booker Rd.
|N of Lookout Rd.
|Green Mountain Rd.
|W of O'Connor Rd.
|E of US 281N
|W of US 281N
|Vance Jackson Rd.
|W of I-10W
|N of Hausmann Rd.
|N of Bandera Rd.
|S of Bandera Rd.
|N of Culebra
|S of Culebra
|N of Potranco
||38,132 ||38,347 ||33,664
to Potranco: Click here
for details on this project.
- Potranco to US 90:
Click here for
details on this project.
Bandera: Click here
for details on this project.
- I-35 to FM 78: Click
details on this project.
view information for all projects in this
2018, plans were announced to upgrade the section from FM 78 to I-10
East to a full freeway, possibly starting in 2023. Details of
those plans are here.
had been in the works since 2005 to expand Loop 1604 from Bandera to
I-35 by adding tolled managed lanes in the median between the existing
lanes. The environmental study for that project, however, has been
delayed several times over the years due to changes in its scope (it
initially included the section all the way south to US 90 that has
since been built separately and is now nearing completion),
and the study itself has had funding issues. In August 2018,
funding available and tolling deprecated, the MPO removed the toll
component of this project. TxDOT now plans to expand 1604 from Bandera
to I-35 to eight general purpose lanes (i.e. four in each direction)
plus one HOV lane in each direction. Before work can start, the
environmental study needs to be completed. Funding for first
phase-- from Bandera to Redland--
has been identified and TxDOT estimates that
begin as early as 2021. That phase will also include some of the
flyovers for a new interchange at I-10. Funding for the second phase--
from Redland to I-35 and the remainder of the new flyovers at I-10--
will need to be found before work can be scheduled on it.
by Transportation Commission Minute
Order 72928 (June 30, 1977). Named "Anderson Loop" for former Bexar
Judge Charles W.
Anderson who advocated for an outer loop during the mid 1950s. Anderson
served as Bexar County Judge from 1939 until his death in 1964.
first plans for an outer loop around San Antonio emerged in 1956. Most
of the northern half was built as new route while most of the southern
half usurped the existing routes of FM 2173 and FM 1518. Work on
the first section, a new road from I-10 to US
around 1958 and was designated as FM 1604. By 1966, it had been
extended east to Pat Booker Rd., usurping the short stretch of FM 1627
between I-35 and Pat Booker.
the west, FM 1604 had also reached Bandera
Road by 1966 and had been extended south to US 90 West by
1969. The section from
Pat Booker south to I-10 East was completed by 1972 as was the section
from US 90 West south to Macdona. There, it met the existing
2173, which was renumbered to be part of FM 1604 in 1973; this took
south to Somerset. East of there, FM 1518 from Somerset to SH 16 South
was also renumbered to FM 1604 in 1973.
east, many sections the then-FM 1518 all the way to St. Hedwig were
upgraded and became part of Loop 1604 in 1977. Other sections were
bypassed and are now other FM roads or county roads. The final section
of the loop,
East and FM 1518, was completed around 1977.
At that point, state
were ready to
change the designation from FM to Loop. Because loops are
typically not assigned a four-digit number, this should have resulted
in a new number being assigned. However, the route number
already become so ingrained with area residents that state officials
decided to simply change the route
designation from FM to Loop, keeping the number as 1604. As a result, Loop
1604 is the only four-digit loop and one of just four four-digit state
highways in Texas that is not a
Farm-to-Market road. The FM
designation has since been recycled and is in use in
Irene, Texas, east of Hillsboro. Regardless, many locals
still mistakenly refer to Loop 1604 as FM 1604
here's one interesting footnote in the 1604 numbering story: In 1958,
the western arc of Loop 1604, from I‑10 south to Macdona, was going to
be designated as Loop 334, but was changed to FM 1604 the
In the late '70s and most of the '80s, the
northern and western sections of Loop 1604, which were still mostly
two-lane farm road, became known as "The Death Loop" due to a high
number of fatal accidents.
Sign along Loop 1604 in 1983
(Image courtesy of TxDOT)
first half of the cloverleaf interchange at I-10 West was completed
around 1982. The
at I‑35 North was completed in 1986 and the rest of the interchange at
I-10 West was
completed in 1987.
around 1987, the
US 281 and I-10 was upgraded to a four-lane freeway. The
281 and I‑35 was upgraded to a freeway in three phases between 1988 and
1991. The section from I‑35 to FM 78 was upgraded around 1991.
segment from I-10 to Babcock was upgraded in 1992. The section from
Babcock to Braun Rd. was upgraded in
1996. The section from Braun Rd. to near Culebra was upgraded
highway in 1999, and the overpass at Culebra opened in early
coverage was added to the section between Babcock and Tradesman in
previously-missing access roads between NW Military and Bitters were
during the summer of 2002. TransGuide coverage was extended
from Babcock to Bandera Rd. in April 2003. Work to upgrade the
section from SH
151 south to US 90 to a four-lane divided
was completed in 2007 and work to widen the section from FM 78 to Lower
Rd. to a divided highway was complete in September 2011. Work
upgrade the section from Lower Seguin Rd. to I-10
a four-lane divided highway was completed in 2015.
and the Alamo
Regional Mobility Authority released plans in June 2007 for a $1.8
mega-project to upgrade and expand Loop 1604 across northern San
Military Dr. West around to I-10 East. This project would
have added tolled freeway lanes where there were no freeway
Braun Rd. and south of FM 78). Between Braun and FM 78, the
project would have
added new tolled managed lanes in the median between the
free freeway lanes, which would have remained toll-free. Additionally,
would have built new interchanges at SH 151, I-10W, US 281N, I-35N,
I-10E, as well as modifications and improvements on those intersecting
roads. That project was eventually broken-up into smaller, toll-free
Congress approved a national economic "stimulus" plan
that poured additional
federal money into road construction projects. The
Organization (MPO) approved allocating San Antonio's share of
stimulus funding to be used as matching funds to leverage state funding
first half of a 281/1604 interchange. This project built all
four of the ramps
connecting to 281 south of 1604, i.e. northbound 281 to both directions
1604, and both directions of 1604 to southbound 281. The use
of the federal
funds allowed the ramps to be toll-free. The Texas
(TTC) approved the funding request on March 5th, 2009. Construction
early 2011 and the
first ramps opened on November 8, 2012, with the remainder
few days before Christmas that same year. The remainder of
associated with the interchange project, including additional lanes on
some ramp modifications, were all complete by mid 2013.
overpass for Vance
Jackson Rd. was completed in mid 2013.
officials identified funding to construct new toll-free freeway
Bandera Rd. south to SH 151. After a funding swap to remove
funding from the project, it was removed from the overarching
federal environmental study
for the corridor, which allowed the state to begin
construction after a state environmental approval. After work began,
the project was expanded to include an overpass for SH 151 to Alamo
Ranch Parkway and a flyover from southbound Loop 1604 to SH 151. The
new southbound freeway
to traffic on April 23, 2016, followed by the northbound lanes on May
12, 2016. The
flyover from SB Loop 1604 to SH 151 opened to traffic July 30,
2016 and the SH 151 - Alamo Ranch Parkway overpass opened on December
and ARMA officials announced funding had been secured to extend
the non-toll freeway south from SH 151 to US 90 and build an
direct connector from southbound Loop 1604 to eastbound US
90. Work began on that segment in late 2016. The first section,
southbound from SH 151 to Potranco, opened in April 2019. The remaining
sections opened in phases in May and June 2019.
it "Loop" 1604 or "FM" 1604?
It is Loop
1604. The first segment of what is now Loop 1604 to be built from
scratch after it was first proposed was numbered FM 1604 and segments
were added to it over the years. When the loop was completed, the
designation was changed in 1977 from FM to Loop. Besides the
obvious meaning of the "loop" nomenclature for motorists, a Loop
designation is equivalent to a State Highway, which makes
it eligible for more types of
funding than FM roads. The FM 1604 designation was re-cycled in 1980
for use on a short stretch of road in the town of Irene in
North Texas, where it is still in use today.
is Loop 1604 four digits while other loops in Texas are three or fewer
first section of new route built for San Antonio's outer loop was
originally designated as a farm-to-market road and numbered FM 1604. As
loop was being built, the new sections were built as continuations
1604. Once the loop was completed in 1977 and the designation
was ready to be changed to "Loop", the route number of 1604
already become well used among locals, so they opted to keep the number
1604 and simply changed the designation from FM to Loop. It is
exception to Texas'
numbering rules and is one of just four four-digit state roads
that's not an FM road.
- Why are the new sections of Loop 1604 only
four lanes? It needs to be six lanes or more.
A lot of
the congestion on Loop 1604 North and assert that the new sections of
Loop 1604 should to
be wider to start with. However, those sections of Loop 1604 carry
than a third of the traffic that most sections of Loop 1604 North do
(for example, 34,000 vehicles per day at Potranco vs. 123,000 at
current volume, and the projections for the next 20 years,
indicate that four lanes should
be adequate for those new sections. Twenty
years is the accepted
planning horizon because that's the length of
time before a road will need major repairs and upgrades simply due to
age (i.e. the road's expected lifespan), and because that's the length
of time that any projections can be considered even remotely
reasonable. Will those new sections experience congestion
before 20 years? Maybe. Nobody has a crystal ball, so traffic
projections are "educated guesses" based on the
best data available for future development in an area and past growth,
and road capacity is always theoretical-- many other factors other than
just the number of lanes affect congestion levels. But as
a steward of taxpayer dollars, TxDOT cannot spend more than they can
empirically justify, a policy I'm sure most
taxpayers support to prevent "pork" projects. And spending now on extra
lanes that may or may not be needed in
the future takes away funding for other projects that are needed today.
- Why didn't they build Loop 1604 between
Bandera and I-35 with more than four lanes?
the point above regarding how the number of lanes to be built is
determined. Then keep in mind that Loop 1604 between I-10 and I-35 was
planned 35 years ago and that it was an upgrade from a two-lane rural
road to the four-lane freeway that's there today-- a dramatic increase
in capacity at the time. Loop 1604 between Bandera and I-10 was planned
around 1990 and also was an upgrade from a two-lane rural road. In both
cases, significant recurring traffic congestion didn't develop until
the 15 to 20 year mark, which shows the validity of the planning done.
An expansion has been planned for a while now but has been delayed (see
- Why haven't they added more lanes to Loop
1604 North? Don't they know how bad the traffic is?
have been in the works to expand Loop 1604 from Bandera to
well over a decade. However, such an expansion is a very expensive project--
approaching $1 billion. Due to substantial funding shortages that began in the
early 2000s, TxDOT was required to incorporate tolling to pay for mega
projects like this. With local
opposition to tolling and the drama over a similar plan on US 281 that
delayed that project for over a decade, the
plan for 1604 has had to be reworked several times. Additionally,
because of the
project's location over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, an extensive
and lengthy Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is required. With new
funding mechanisms now in place and tolling deprecated, the toll
component has since been removed from the project. This has required
the project to be redesigned yet again and additional
funding allocated in order to complete it. As of this
anticipates that work on the first phase-- from Bandera to US 281-- could start in 2021.