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

This page last updated July 6, 2019


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 an 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 Rd., 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 Potranco Rd. 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 Rd. and Potranco Rd. 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 (nor 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, this time an approximately 14 mile stretch from SH 16 north and east to I-10 and on to FM 3351 (Ralph Fair Rd.) in far northwest Bexar County. The owner of property just north of SH 16 planned to donate a swath of land for the road. However, this path, as well as the topography of the area, limited the possible corridor for the highway to the north and resulted in the preferred alignment, as well as several of the alternatives, to run through the middle of an adjacent historic ranch (see map below.) The owners of that ranch vehemently opposed the road and hired a lawyer and an environmental firm to fight the state. A smorgasbord of issues, ranging from endangered species to water quality to archaeological finds, was presented. Efforts were made by the state at a compromise but to no avail. Other property owners in the area along the various alternate routes then joined in opposing the plan. During the fracas, the owner of the property just north of SH 16 that was to have been donated passed-away, and the subsequent inheritor of the property then withdrew the offer to donate it for the project. Given all of these factors (and the political fallout from the publication of a clearly biased piece in Texas Monthly on the drama), the proposal for that extension was shelved in 1992, and there have been no plans to resurrect it. However, the recently-formed Scenic Loop-Helotes Creek Alliance has indicated it may support revisting a SH 211 extension, ostensibly to reduce traffic on Scenic Loop Road.

ca. 1992 map of possible routes for SH 211 extension
(Source: TxDOT)

South extension
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 SH 16 to I-10 segment, those plans also never progressed very far.

"Road to nowhere"
While the first segment provided an obvious benefit in connecting the research park to US 90, the other segment (from Culebra Rd. to Bandera Rd.) has often been cited by some (short-sighted) people as being a "road to nowhere", especially given the lack of the Culebra Rd. to Potranco Rd. segment. 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 minimal cost before development encroaches, costs increase, and the need becomes acute, thus reflecting the type of long-range planning that many citizens say they 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, virtually no development occurred along SH 211 itself until recently. Instead, as predicted by planners, development has surged outward along Potranco Rd., Culebra Rd., and Bandera Rd., and SH 211 is becoming the efficacious lateral connector it was envisioned to be. Indeed, the need for completing SH 211-- and the wisdom of its existence-- is becoming acutely more evident every day as traffic counts on 211 at Potranco have nearly doubled over the past four years, and the count on 211 at Bandera is up 47% over that same time.

SH 211 between Culebra Rd. and Bandera Rd.

Current status
So with growth starting to explode in far 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 Rd. to Culebra Rd., 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. Due to funding limitations, Bexar County and the Texas Transportation Commission approved a "pass-through financing" agreement i
n late 2009 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 and approved in 2017. As of this writing, design is complete and right-of-way acquisition is ongoing. Bexar and Medina counties have reportedly had some difficulties in right-of-way acquisition, which has caused the planned start date to slip. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in mid 2020 and be complete in late 2021.

An upcoming project on FM 471 will add an overpass and interchange for SH 211. Another project on US 90 will reconfigure the interchange with SH 211 there.

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

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