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Read my essay on San Antonio's freeway history for the Express-News' Tricentennial series here. The full history of the freeway system is available on this site here.

SH-211 San Antonio Area Roads & More
State Highway 211 (Texas Research Parkway)

This page last updated January 11, 2018


SH 211 location map

Initial segment
While the concept of a north-south highway in far western Bexar County has been around since the late 1960s, it wasn't until the mid '80s that the actual need for such a road materialized. In 1986, land was donated for the now-defunct Texas Research Park, a planned campus of biomedical research organizations and pharmaceutical companies in far western Bexar County just off FM 1957 (Potranco Rd.) This location was accessible only by Potranco Road and local leaders knew that to make it successful, they would need better access. Taking their cue from the then recently-built SH 151, where the land for the road was entirely donated, officials lined-up donated land to build a highway from US 90 to the front door of the research park at Potranco. The State Dept. of Highways and Public Transportation (now TxDOT) accepted the land and built the highway, SH 211. The road opened in 1990 and was built as a two-lane rural highway, but enough right-of-way was acquired for a future freeway. 

Second segment built
With the initial segment built, local officials, realizing the growth potential of the area, decided to keep the momentum going and get the highway extended northward to SH 16 (Bandera Rd.) Using donated land once more, the first segment of this extension, from Bandera Rd. south to FM 471 (Culebra Rd.), was completed in 1991. However, some land owners along the proposed route between Culebra and Potranco decided not to donate their land. Per the agreement with the state, land for the project was required to either be donated or purchased by Bexar or Medina counties, neither of which had funding (or desire) to purchase the needed land. This resulted in efforts to acquire the right-of-way for that section to eventually stall.

Opposition to far northern extension
Meanwhile, more virulent opposition emerged when the highway department announced they were planning yet another extension of 211 from SH 16 north and east to I-10 West in far northwest Bexar County. The owner of property just north of SH 16 offered to donate a swath of land for the road. However, this limited the possible route of the highway and required most of the possible routes to I-10 to run through the middle of an adjacent historic ranch. The owners of that ranch vehemently opposed the road and fought the highway department, hiring a lawyer and an environmental firm to present reasons to stop the highway. A smorgasbord of issues, ranging from endangered species to water quality to archaeological finds, was presented to TxDOT. Efforts were made by the state at a compromise, but to no avail. Other property owners in the area joined in opposing the plan, including the subsequent inheritor of the land just north of SH 16 that was to have been donated. After much ballyhooing (including an obviously slanted piece in Texas Monthly on the drama), the proposal for that extension was shelved, and as of today, there are no plans to resurrect it.

Other extensions
TxDOT briefly considered an extension of the route south to I-35, but that appears to have been short-lived. There were also preliminary discussions of continuing the route around Camp Bullis and east to I-35 near New Braunfels, but with the tabling of the the Bandera to I-10 segment, those plans also were shelved.

"Road to nowhere"
While the first segment provided an obvious benefit in connecting the research park to US 90, the other segment (from Culebra to Bandera) was often cited by some (short-sighted) people as being a "road to nowhere", especially given the lack of the Culebra to Potranco segment, a perception that has persisted. The fact that much of the land was donated caused some to believe that the road was built to encourage development in western Bexar County. TxDOT, however, has always maintained that the road was built to get ahead of the growth and preserve a corridor at little cost before development encroaches, costs increase, and the need becomes acute, thus reflecting the type of long-range planning that citizens want. TxDOT cited the fact that when Loop 1604 was planned in the 1960s, it was way beyond the edge of the city and many people at that time also lambasted it as a "road to nowhere", but the wisdom of that foresight is quite evident today. It's worth noting that despite what was alleged two decades ago, little development has occurred along SH 211 itself to date; instead, as predicted by planners, development has surged outward along Potranco, Culebra, and Bandera (even in the absence of the middle segment), and the need for completing SH 211-- and the wisdom of its existence-- is becoming more evident.

Current status
So with growth now exploding in western Bexar County, officials began working again in 2007 to acquire the necessary right-of-way and funding for the missing middle segment from Potranco to Culebra, and TxDOT began the process to update its environmental reviews for the entire corridor both in anticipation of constructing the middle section as well as for possible future upgrades of the corridor to a divided highway or freeway. In late 2009, Bexar County and the Texas Transportation Commission approved a pass-through financing agreement whereby Bexar County will build the missing segment and be reimbursed by the state over several years. The findings for the latest environmental review were released in mid July 2017. Approval by the Federal Highway Administration was expected in the third quarter of 2017. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in late 2018 and be complete in mid 2020.

(SH 211 is authorized by Minute Order 88108 [November 29, 1988]. The order includes the section from SH 16 to I-10.)

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