project is currently in design The
project below is still in design. Descriptions below are based on
preliminary schematics released on May 19th, 2021 and,
result, details may change before the project goes to construction.
page will be updated when future schematics for this project are
With growth in southern Comal
County booming, and with the upcoming
completion of the 281 expansion in Bexar County, this stretch of US 281
will see increased traffic and congestion over the coming
decade. To handle that projected traffic and improve safety, TxDOT is
expand this stretch of 281 to a four-lane freeway.
This project will dovetail with the freeway currently under
construction in Bexar County thereby
providing a continuous freeway corridor from SH 46 all the way to
downtown San Antonio.
This project is currently in early design and is not funded, so no
timeline is currently available.
A future project is planned to extend the freeway even further north to
TxDOT announced plans to upgrade US 281 in Bexar County to a
from Loop 1604 to Stone Oak Parkway and to build a
standalone overpass at Borgfeld with long-term plans to
upgrade 281 to a full freeway in phases all the way to FM 306 at the
Comal/Blanco County line.
However, due to severe funding shortages in the early 2000s, the state
required new freeway projects to use tolls where possible, so the
expansion project from Loop 1604 to Stone Oak was changed to
include tolled mainlanes with non-tolled access
roads and was extended to Borgfeld. This sparked a decade-long battle
delayed the project multiple times. With new non-toll revenue becoming
available, that project finally got underway in 2017 and should be
complete in 2023.
overpass at SH 46 was built in 1978 in conjunction with
this stretch of US 281 from a two lane road to the current four lane
divided highway. The overpass at FM 1863 was built in 1999.
To accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic along this stretch
and improve safety,
TxDOT is planning to upgrade US 281 from the Bexar county line to SH 46
from a four-lane divided highway to a four-lane freeway. The freeway,
which would close all crossovers along this stretch,
would include the addition of access roads, entrance and exit ramps,
improvements to the existing overpasses at SH 46 and FM 1863, and
construction of a new overpass at Mustang Vista. A short extension of
Mustang Vista would be built to the west of US 281 to connect to an
extension of Short Hill. This will allow traffic from Casey Rd. to
cross US 281 and to allow traffic from northbound US 281 to reach Casey
Rd. without having to turn around at SH 46. The project would also
FM 1863 between US 281 and Wiley Road to a six lane (i.e. three lanes
each direction) road with a raised median and make improvements to the
existing intersections at US 281 and FM 1863.
project would include a soutbound access road from SH 46 to just north
of Flightline Rd. and would include sidewalks throughout the project.
project would require additional right-of-way much like the expansion
in Bexar County did. However, the center median throughout
the project would be wide enough to accomodate future widenings or
other transportation improvements without having to expand the
project is currently unfunded, so there is no timetable for its
access road lanes varies depending on location. Most locations will
have three access road lanes in each direction.
purposes only and are not to
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 that this schematic is preliminary and subject to change.
Video TxDOT has a good video that describes this project:
this project be tolled?
No. Although earlier versions of the US 281 expansion in Bexar County
included tolled lanes, funding was secured to remove
component from that project, and planning for the expansion in Comal
County had never progressed to the point where a decision on tolls
would have had to be made. With tolling now deprecated statewide, this
project will therefore consist of
non-tolled freeway mainlanes and access roads.
this project have an HOV
No, the HOV lane currently being added to US 281 in Bexar County will
not be extended north as part of this project. However, planners will
leave an "envelope" in the median to accommodate a possible HOV lane in
plans show two mainlanes in each direction, but there are
already two lanes in each direction here, so how is this
common misconception because it is not an
apples-to-apples comparison. Yes, this section of 281 does
indeed have two lanes each way today and will only
have two mainlanes each way when
this project is complete. However, those two mainlanes will be freeway
mainlanes, not surface
road lanes as they are today. Since freeway
not have signalized intersections, they can carry about twice
as many vehicles per hour than surface road lanes
can. Therefore, the two
freeway lanes are roughly equivalent to four of the existing lanes.
some of the
traffic in the current lanes in that area is headed to or from the
intersecting roads, neighborhoods, or frontage businesses, and will
therefore be on the
access road lanes, not on the freeway mainlanes. Access road lanes are
surface road lanes, so with a
minimum of two access road lanes in each direction (and three along
most stretches), that adds two to three more
lanes to our running total.
When you add those up, the new lanes are approximately
equivalent to six
surface road lanes in
each direction, which triples the number of lanes that are
Even if you just count the raw number of lanes and don't
account for the capacity differences for the types of lanes,
there will still be four to five lanes in each direction (two
mainlanes and two to three access road lanes) as opposed to just the
two lanes there today.
needs to be at least three mainlanes in each direction-- two
lanes will soon result in congestion like that on Loop 1604.
look at current and projected traffic volumes to determine the number
of lanes to build. The planning timeline is typically 20-25 years.
(This is the longest that estimates can be considered reliable. Also,
the lifespan of a road before it needs major repairs or reconstruction
also around 20 years.) Although nobody has a crystal ball and can tell
volumes will be two decades from now, the best estimates show
mainlanes will be sufficient. According to TxDOT's May 2021 public
meeting for this project, projections are that this stretch of US 281
will carry about 108,000 vehicles per day in 2049 (which is actually
about a 30-year projection) -- this is less than what Loop 1604 at
Green Mountain carries today (113,000) and is about what Loop 1604 near
Braun Rd. carries today (102,000), both of which experience no
recurring congestion. For
the section of Loop 1604 North between US 281 and I-10 carries over
150,000 vehicles per day.
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