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"The Circuit"

This page last updated February 10, 2024

The Circuit map

If you look at a road map of South-Central Texas for a few minutes, you may soon notice that, in addition to Loops 410 and 1604, San Antonio has yet another, albeit unofficial, loop. This outer-outer loop is formed by parts of State Highways 16, 97, 123, and 173 and all of SH 46. The roughly 222 mile ring, about 30-40 miles from downtown San Antonio, connects the towns of Boerne, Bulverde, New Braunfels, Seguin, Stockdale, Floresville, Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Devine, Hondo, and Bandera. The areas along the northern arc of this route are rapidly growing as San Antonio's exurbs continue to push northward, and some local residents have begun to discuss the need for a possible third loop around San Antonio. While there are no official plans currently in the works to officially designate a third loop, "The Circuit" has emerged as a possible moniker for this ad-hoc beltway.

The majority of the route consists of two-lane rural roads. With San Antonio's northward growth, SH 46 is currently the focus of nearly all of the recent and planned major expansion projects, with the exception being a long-range plan to expand SH 123 south of Seguin. In 2006, TxDOT announced plans to widen SH 46 between Bulverde and New Braunfels, and work was completed in 2011 to widen the road to seven lanes between Loop 337 and FM 2722 in western New Braunfels, including an overpass at FM 2722. During the past decade, passing lanes have been added between Boerne and New Braunfels. A widening project on SH 46 on the east side of Boerne was completed in 2021. An expansion project on SH 46/Loop 337 in New Braunfels was completed in 2022. The SH 46 overpass at I‑10 in Boerne was widened in 2023 as part of a project to improve I‑10 in the vicinity.


Bulverde widening
The 2006 plan proposed to widen SH 46 to six lanes through Bulverde, but the Bulverde City Council twice voted not to support the project, so it was shelved. However, they have since reconsidered, and TxDOT began an updated study of the route in 2015. The current proposal calls for widening SH 46 from Bulverde Rd. to FM 3159 to six lanes including a center median, bicycle facilities, and sidewalks. An overpass and interchange is planned at FM 3159. Construction of the section from Farhills Dr. to Bentwood Dr. began in late 2022 and is expected to be complete in late 2025. The section from Bulverde Rd. to Farhills Dr. and from Bentwood Dr. to FM 3159 are currently unfunded and so no timeline is available.

Kendall Gateway Study ("Boerne Loop")
In 2017 and 2018, TxDOT conducted the so-called "Kendall Gateway Study" for a possible bypass or other improvements in and around Boerne. The study, however, has been shelved after the Kendall County commissioners court voted not to support it. (Editorial: This was a very shortsighted move, and I suspect that, like Bulverde, they will reconsider their decision at some point in the future when congestion overwhelms the Boerne area.)

New Braunfels-Seguin corridor freeway plans
Sometime around the turn of the century, TxDOT widened SH 46 from New Braunfels to Seguin from a rural two-lane road to a five lane arterial.

In 2015, with growth accelerating in the SH 46 corridor, TxDOT, in conjunction with the cities of New Braunfels and Seguin and Guadalupe and Comal counties, began a study for the next generation of improvements. The proposed plan was presented in January 2023 and would upgrade SH 46 to a freeway from Business 46 in New Braunfels to FM 78 in Seguin. In Comal County, the freeway would be elevated over the existing road in order to minimize the impact to the adjacent developed properties. In Guadalupe County, where there is room to acquire additional right-of-way, the new road would be a typical, at-grade freeway. Direct-connector flyovers would be built from westbound SH 46 to southbound I‑35, and from northbound I‑35 to eastbound SH 46. A future project along I‑10 in Seguin would build direct connectors from westbound I‑10 to westbound SH 46 and from eastbound SH 46 to eastbound I‑10.

This project is still in the preliminary planning phase and is not currently funded. Environmental approval, funding, detailed design, right-of-way acquisition, and utility relocation still must occur before construction can start. The absolute earliest that could happen is 2025, but a timeline closer to 2030 is more plausible.