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Loop 1604 San Antonio Area Freeway System
State Loop 1604 (Charles W. Anderson Loop)

This page last updated October 19, 2017

Loop 1604 highlight map This page covers the freeway segment of Loop 1604 across North San Antonio from FM 78 in Converse to SH 151. The remainder of the 95 mile loop is non-freeway, most of which is a two-lane rural road.

Length: 31 miles


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On this page

Overview
 
Roadway
details
Schematic
(Not yet available)
Lanes Access
roads
         
Exits
 
Speed
limits
Special features
& notes
Traffic Media gallery
         
       
 
 Construction
projects
Future
plans
History FAQ
 
       

Overview

When it was built in the 1960s, it would have been hard to fathom that Loop 1604 North would become the busy beltline that it is today. While the southern half remains in its original configuration as a two-lane rural state highway, the northern arc has been expanded to a four-lane freeway. Loop 1604 forms the outer of San Antonio's two beltways and the freeway portion serves Randolph AFB, Rolling Oaks Mall, the Stone Oak area, Camp Bullis, the University of Texas at San Antonio's (UTSA) main campus, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Shops at La Cantera and the La Cantera development, The Rim development, the headquarters for Valero Energy and Tesoro Energy, the Alamo Ranch area, Sea World, the Westover Hills area, and the suburban cities of Converse, Universal City, Live Oak, Selma, Hollywood Park, Shavano Park, and Helotes. The corridor runs through increasingly dense suburban residential areas with some moderate to heavy commercial development, especially near I-35, US 281, I-10, Bandera Rd., and SH 151. The area outside 1604 from Bandera Rd. to US 90 is expected to add 200,000 people by 2030.

There is only half of a fully directional interchange at US 281. Motorists must use access roads and a signalized three-level interchange to access US 281 north of 1604. Work to construct the remaining four ramps of the interchange is underway and expected to be complete by 2020. Cloverleaf interchanges exist at I-10 and I-35. At SH 151, there is a flyover connector from southbound Loop 1604 to eastbound SH 151. Another flyover connector is under construction from southbound Loop 1604 to US 90 eastbound.


Loop 1604 is sometimes mistakenly referred to as FM 1604.  However, it is correctly titled Loop 1604; FM 1604 is in North Texas.  (See the History section below for more info.)

Roadway details

LANES

    • 4 lanes along entire route
 

ACCESS ROADS

Loop 1604 access roads map
  • Continuous access roads along all of route except:
    • East of Pat Booker (NB) and east of Kitty Hawk (SB)
    • At I-35
    • At the railroad tracks between Nacogdoches and Green Mountain
 
EXITS

 
Click here for a list of Loop 1604 exits.

 

SPEED LIMITS

Loop 1604 speed limit map
  • 70 mph from Nacogdoches to SH 151
  • 65 mph from Pat Booker to FM 78
 

SPECIAL FEATURES & NOTES

Loop 1604 special features map
  • TransGuide coverage from Lockhill-Selma to SH 151
  • Five at-grade turnoffs ('right-on, right-off") with no median crossover in Universal City
  • Partial directional interchanges at US 281 and SH 151 
  • VIA Metropolitan Transit University Park & Ride located under I-10 interchange
  • Carpool parking area on northbound ramp to/from FM 78
  • Unusual yield sign arrangement at I-10 interchange; click here for more information
 

TRAFFIC

Loop 1606 traffic map
Traffic volume legend
 

Loop 1604 experienced ridiculously blistering traffic growth during the 1990s with average AADT counts up well over 300% along nearly the entire route, and up nearly 800% near Bandera Rd. However, that has moderated substantially during the past decade. Generally, volume is moderate to heavy along entire route. Traffic on the section north of Bandera Rd. increased more than tenfold between 1990 and 2015. Recurring congestion occurs during morning and evening peak periods between Bandera Rd. and US 281.

 

AVERAGE ANNUAL DAILY TRAFFIC
LOCATION 1990 2005 2010 2013 2014 2015 '05-'15
% CHG
E of FM 78 9,400 26,520 26,000 30,234 30,174 32,510 +22.59%
W of FM 78 18,300 48,960 56,000 52,127 54,660 58,811 +20.12%
Pat Booker Rd. 19,800 77,580 65,000 72,360 65,010 79,469 +2.43%
Lookout Rd. 21,000 81,700 81,000 95,195 96,437 100,656 +23.20%
Green Mountain Rd. 15,800 69,170 70,000 86,454 81,613 94,987 +37.32%
O'Connor Rd. 16,800 84,330 78,000 92,748 92,475 93,113 +10.42%
Gold Canyon Dr. 19,800 101,950 96,000 100,184 94,187 101,873 -0.08%
W of US 281N 24,000 123,680 118,000 121,680 95,273 99,204 -19.79%
Bitters Rd. 25,000 104,980 107,000 121,620 112,593 136,275 +29.81%
Tradesman Dr. 26,000 106,180 108,000 124,669 112,871 129,500 +21.96%
La Cantera Pkwy. 21,000 90,820 113,000 114,849 70,875 119,668 +31.76%
Hausmann Rd. 13,300 80,450 95,000 101,474 104,141 105,328 +30.92%
N of Bandera Rd. 10,200 81,220 94,000 102,158 102,971 105,721 +30.17%
S of Bandera Rd. 8,700 60,830 65,000 72,175 76,851 81,114 +33.35%


Construction projects

  • At SH 151/Alamo Ranch Parkway: Click here for details on this project.
  • Culebra to Potranco: Click here for details on this project.
  • At Bandera: Click here for details on this project.

Click here to view information for all projects in this corridor.


Future plans

TxDOT and the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority released plans in June 2007 for a $1.8 billion mega-project to upgrade and expand Loop 1604 across northern San Antonio from Military Dr. West around to I-10 East. This project would have added tolled freeway lanes where there were no freeway lanes (i.e. south of Braun Rd. and south of FM 78). Between Braun and FM 78, the project would have added new tolled managed lanes in the median between the existing free freeway lanes, which would have remained toll-free. Additionally, it would have built major interchanges at SH 151, I-10W, US 281N, I-35N, and I-10E, as well as modifications and improvements on those intersecting roads. That project was shelved and a new environmental impact study on the entire corridor is currently underway.

For more information on the managed lanes plans for Loop 1604, see the Loop 1604 managed lanes project page.

In February 2009, Congress approved a national economic "stimulus" plan that poured additional federal money into road construction projects. The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) approved allocating San Antonio's share of transportation stimulus funding to be used as matching funds to leverage state funding for first half of a 281/1604 interchange. This project built all four of the ramps connecting to 281 south of 1604, i.e. northbound 281 to both directions of 1604, and both directions of 1604 to southbound 281. The use of the federal funds allowed the ramps to be toll-free. The Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) approved the funding request on March 5th, 2009. Construction began in early 2011 and was complete in mid 2013. It was determined that ramps connecting to 281 north of 1604 could not be built until lingering issues stemming from the lawsuits and associated environmental studies for 281 north of 1604 were resolved.  However, funding was set aside for those ramps so that construction could begin as soon as the legal and environmental issues were resolved and constuction began in 2017.

In January 2014, TxDOT and ARMA officials announced funding had been secured to extend the planned non-toll freeway south from SH 151 to US 90 and build an elevated direct connector from southbound Loop 1604 to eastbound US 90. Work began on that segment in late 2016. For more information on the Culebra to Potranco segment, click here. For the Potranco to US 90 segment, click here.

Plans were announced in early 2017 to make upgrades to the section from I-35 to FM 78. These upgrades will include constructing continuous access roads to connect the existing stretches of discontiguous access roads and eliminate the several "right-on, right-off" intersections on the mainlanes, reconfiguring  entrance and exit ramps, adding auxiliary lanes between ramps, reconstructing the Pat Booker overpass, and widening the Kitty Hawk overpass. Construction could begin in 2018. More details here.


History

Loop 1604 was authorized by Transportation Commission Minute Order 72928 (June 30, 1977). Named "Anderson Loop" for former Bexar County Judge Charles W. Anderson who died from cancer in 1964 after serving for 25 years on the bench.

Loop 1604 was assembled from several Farm-to-Market and State Loop roads in the early '60s. One of the FM roads that was included was FM 1604, and segments of other roads added to the loop were subsequently renumbered as FM 1604. However, when the loop was nearly done and state officials were ready to change the designation from FM to a Loop, they found that the 1604 number had become ingrained with area residents. So in 1977, they simply changed the route designation to Loop 1604. As a result, Loop 1604 holds the distinction as the only four-digit state highway in Texas that is not a Farm-to-Market road. FM 1604 has since been recycled and is in use in Irene, Texas, east of Hillsboro. Regardless, many locals still mistakenly refer to Loop 1604 as FM 1604.

Loop 1604 usurped all or parts Loop 334, FM 1518, FM 1604, FM 1627, and FM 2173. FM 1518 ran from Somerset east to Elmendorf, then north to near US 87 and then on to Schertz. FM 1627 was a short road connecting I-35 to Pat Booker, and FM 2173 connected Somerset to Macdona. Loop 334 composed the western arc of today's 1604 routing from I-10 West south to Macdona.

The first plans for an outer loop around San Antonio emerged ca. 1956. About that time, work began on the first segment of FM 1604 from I-10 to US 281 and was completed around 1958. By 1964, it had been extended to I-10 East. Meanwhile, to the west, Loop 334 was being built from the end of FM 1604 at I-10 West. That route reached south to the Bandera Road area by 1958. It was renumbered to be part of FM 1604 in 1959 and reached Macdona ca. 1974. FM 2173 and 1518 were upgraded and redesignated as FM 1604 in the mid '70s, and the missing section, between I-10 East and FM 1518, was built in the late '70s.

The current interchanges at I-10 and I-35 were completed ca. 1986. Around 1987, the section between US 281 and I-10 was upgraded to a four-lane freeway. The section between US 281 and I-35 was upgraded to a freeway in two phases in the late '80s. The segment from I-10 to Babcock was upgraded in the early '90s as was the section from I-35 to FM 78. The section from Babcock to Braun Rd. was completed in 1996. The section from Braun Rd. to near Culebra was upgraded to a divided highway in 1999, and the overpass at Culebra opened in mid 2004. TransGuide coverage was added to the section between Babcock and Tradesman in 1999. The previously-missing access roads between NW Military and Bitters were added during the summer of 2002. TransGuide coverage was extended to the section from I-10 to Bandera Rd. in April 2003. Work to upgrade the section from SH 151 south to US 90 from a two-lane rural road to a four-lane divided highway was completed in 2007 and work to widen the section from FM 78 to Lower Seguin Rd. to a divided highway was complete in September 2011. Work to upgrade the section from Lower Seguin Rd. to I-10 East to a four-lane divided highway was completed in 2015.

The first ramps in the 281/1604 interchange opened on November 8, 2012, with the remainder opening a few days before Christmas that same year. The remainder of the improvements associated with the interchange project, including additional lanes on 1604 and some ramp modifications, were all complete by mid 2013.

An overpass for Vance Jackson Rd. was completed in mid 2013.

In May 2012, local officials identified funding to construct new toll-free freeway lanes from Bandera Rd. south to SH 151. After a funding swap to remove federal funding from the project, it was removed from the overarching environmental study for the corridor, which allowed the state to begin construction before the study was complete. Construction was subsequently completed before the study was finished. The new southbound freeway lanes opened to traffic on April 23, 2016, followed by the northbound lanes on May 12th.  


FAQ

  • Is it "Loop" 1604 or "FM" 1604?
    It is Loop 1604. A Loop designation is equivalent to a State Highway, which makes it eligible for federal funding. The FM system is funded entirely by the state. There is actually an FM 1604 in the town of Irene in North Texas.

  • Why is Loop 1604 the only four-digit route in Texas that's not an FM?
    As the loop was being built, the state used the number of one of the existing roadways that became part of the loop: FM 1604. Once the loop was mostlt completed in 1977 and the designation was ready to be changed to "Loop", the route number 1604 had become well-known among locals, so it was retained and the designation simply changed from FM to Loop. It is an exception to Texas' numbering rules.

  • Why are the new sections of Loop 1604 only four lanes? It needs to be six lanes or more.
    The number of lanes for a new roadway is based on current and projected traffic volumes for the next 20 years. Twenty years is the accepted planning horizon for a couple of reasons. First, 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). Second, that length of time is the longest that any projections can be considered even remotely reasonable. Since nobody has a crystal ball, traffic projections are "educated guesses" based on the best data available for future development in an area and past growth. Roads are then planned based on those projections. In the case of the new segments of Loop 1604, those projections show that four lanes will be adequate for the 20 years. TxDOT, as a steward of taxpayer dollars, cannot spend more than they can justify, a policy I'm sure most taxpayers support, especially with all the other needs that need to be funded.

  • Why didn't they build Loop 1604 between Bandera and I-35 with more than four lanes?
    See the point above regarding how the number of lanes to be built is determined. Then keep in mind that Loop 1604 between I-10 and I-35 was planned 35 years ago and that it was an upgrade from a two-lane rural road to the four-lane freeway that's there today-- a dramatic increase in capacity at the time. Loop 1604 between Bandera and I-10 was planned around 1990 and also was an upgrade from a two-lane rural road. In both cases, significant recurring traffic congestion didn't develop until the 15 to 20 year mark, which shows the validity of the planning done. The issue now is that an upgrade is needed but has been delayed (see next point.)

  • Why haven't they added more lanes to Loop 1604 North? Don't they know how bad the traffic is?
    Plans have been in the works to expand Loop 1604 from Bandera to I-35 for over a decade. However, such an expansion is a very expensive project-- approaching $1 billion. Over the past couple of decades, TxDOT has faced a substantial funding shortage that has required them to plan to use tolling to pay for the new lanes. With local opposition to tolling and the drama over a similar plan on US 281 that delayed that project for over a decade, the plan for 1604 has had to be reworked several times. Additionally, because of the project's location over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, an intensive Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has been required, a study that is made more time-consuming because of the length of the project. Recent projects on the western corridor, which were included in earlier drafts of the study, have since been pulled-out of that overall project, which has required the EIS to be revised, causing further delays. As of this writing, the study is still underway and TxDOT has the first phases of the managed lane project tentatively set to start in 2020.





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