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San Antonio Area Freeway System
PROJECT INFO: Loop 1604 from Potranco to US 90

This page last updated July 9, 2019

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Project locationLocation
Loop 1604 from Potranco Rd. to US 90

Status
Under construction (87% complete). The northbound mainlanes opened on June 8th. The southbound
mainlanes and flyover at US 90 opened on June 13th.

Description
This project upgraded Loop 1604 at this location from a four-lane divided highway to a four-lane, toll-free freeway. This included adding
an underpass at Dove Canyon/Falcoln Wolf, expanding the existing overpass at Marbach, and adding continuous access roads and entrance and exit ramps. The expansion was completed by converting the existing northbound lanes to the northbound access road, converting the existing southbound lanes to northbound expressway lanes, and constructing the remaining lanes (southbound expressway and access road.) Unbeknownst to most motorists, the previous divided highway was orignially designed to eventually be expanded to a freeway as described above; this helped expedite the work a bit, reduced the project's cost, and minimized disruption to traffic.

This project also built a direct connector (flyover) from SB Loop 1604 to EB US 90, and the existing cloverleaf ramp from southbound Loop 1604 to eastbound US 90 will be removed. The existing signalized intersections at US 90 will remain, but a second overpass for Loop 1604 over US 90 has been built for the northbound lanes and the previously-existing overpass is now used for the southbound lanes. The divided highway now ends just south of US 90 and merges into the existing two-lane road.

The cost of this project is $64.1 million and is being paid for with local funds from the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority as part of the larger $825 five-year regional transportation plan announced in January 2014.

A separate project on US 90 converted the US 90 access roads to one-way and built the turnaround from westbound to eastbound US 90 at Loop 1604, which should remove an appreciable amount of traffic from the intersections at Loop 1604.

This project and an adjacent project extended the Loop 1604 freeway from SH 151 to US 90.

How this project will help
Staggering ongoing growth in this area of San Antonio necessitated upgrading this roadway. The new freeway lanes with overpasses at the signalized intersections allows for continuous free-flowing traffic through the corridor. The four freeway lanes are anticipated to handle the projected traffic in this corridor for the next 20 years. The connector to US 90 will remove that traffic from the remaining signalized intersections at US 90. 

Timeline
Construction began in early 2017 and estimated completion is mid 2019. Click here for the latest status report on this project.

The northbound mainlanes opened on June 8th. The southbound mainlanes and flyover at US 90 opened on June 13th.

FAQ

  • Why was the crossover at Emory Peak removed? Nobody told us when we moved here it would be removed someday.
    It was always planned for that crossover to be temporary and to be removed when Loop 1604 was expanded. The developer of the Laurel Mountain Ranch subdivision was aware of this and should have informed buyers.

  • There was already a crossover at Emory Peak. Why close it and add a new crossover at Falcon Wolf/Dove Canyon where there wasn't one previously?
    In a freeway corridor, one mile is generally considered to be the ideal interval for crossovers. When crossovers are closer than that, it complicates entrance and exit ramp placement and shortens weaving areas or forces some traffic to traverse an additional signalized intersection, all of which decreases safety and increases congestion and motorist inconvenience. Emory Peak is located just 1/2 mile from Marbach whereas Falcon Wolf/Dove Canyon is located at just about one mile from Marbach and a little over one mile from Potranco; in other words, it's more ideally located for a crossover. Furthermore, the 
    Falcon Wolf/Dove Canyon location connects a roadway on both sides of Loop 1604, also a more ideal situation. Were it not for the steep elevation differences there, a crossover would have been built there many years ago. Finally, it is planned for Falcon Wolf to eventually extend to Marbach on the east (and it essentially already does now via Big Wolf Creek) and for Dove Canyon to eventually extend to Grosenbacher via American Lotus on the west, thus making it a future east-west thoroughfare and making the overpass at Loop 1604 more logical. In other words, the overpass at Falcon Wolf/Dove Canyon is one piece of a larger puzzle that's still being put together.

  • Why are the new sections of Loop 1604 only four lanes? It needs to be six lanes or more.
    A lot of people see the congestion on Loop 1604 North and assert that this stretch needs to be wider than four lanes (i.e. two lanes in each direction) to start with. However, this stretch of Loop 1604 carries less than a third of the traffic that most sections of Loop 1604 North do (34,000 vehicles per day at Potranco vs. 123,000 at Bandera.) That current volume, and the projections for the next 20 years, indicate that four lanes should be adequate. 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 this section experience congestion before 20 years? Maybe. Nobody has a crystal ball, so traffic projections are "educated guesses" based on past growth and the best data available for future growth in an area. Furthermore, 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 corruption. 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.

  • Is the one-way access road at the eastbound US 90 exit to Loop 1604 permanent? If so, why?
    This has been a heated topic of conversation especially among residents of the Canyon Crossing subdivision off of Cagnon Road southwest of the US 90/Loop 1604 intersection. The answer is yes, this is a permanent change. The reason why is simple-- safety. One-way access roads have been proven to reduce crashes dramatically. In this case especially, the left turn onto Cagnon was fairly close to the exit from US 90. Therefore, high-speed traffic exiting from US 90 was quickly in a conflict with that left-turning traffic. Furthermore, one-way access roads are much more efficient from a traffic-carrying perspective-- an important consideration in a growing area. A future expansion project on US 90 will extend the access road to the west, which could help mitigate the impact of this change. (Note that this change was actually not done as part of the project discussed on this page, but I've addressed it here because this page covers ongoing construction at this location.)

Schematic
Click on the image below to open the detailed schematic for this project from TxDOT with my own annotations added to help clarify and explain the various elements. The schematic will open in a new window that you can scroll and zoom.

 (Note: The schematic is somewhat large and may take a few seconds to open.)

 
Other sites of interest
TxDOT - Loop 1604 from US 90 to FM 1957 (Potranco Road)
http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/san-antonio/loop-1604-us-90-fm-1957.html




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This page and all its contents are Copyright 2019 by Brian Purcell

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