Antonio Area Freeway System
Toll Lanes Project
last updated March 10, 2017
project is currently
undergoing a new environmental review and study
previous configuration discussed and shown on this page has been
removed. This page will be updated when the current study is
complete and details of a proposed expansion are available.
is information about the history of previous plans to add toll
lanes to Loop 1604 and the latest status.
the mid and
late '80s, Loop 1604 was upgraded from a two-lane farm road to a
four-lane freeway between I-10 West and I-35 North.
projects in the early '90s extended the freeway to Kitty Hawk on the
east and to Braun Rd. on the west. Since that time, a
tremendous amount development has taken place along the 1604 corridor,
and traffic counts all along 1604 have increased
fact, 10 of the top 15 locations for traffic growth since 1990 are along
1604 North, with the top growth spot showing growth of almost 1000%.
Meanwhile, Loop 1604 has struggled to keep up with the explosion of
traffic. The section south of Braun to Culebra was upgraded
a two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway in 1999, the overpass at
Culebra was added in 2004, and the section from Culebra south to US 90
was upgraded from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided arterial in
2007. By 2010, due to a dramatic increase in construction
and stagnant fuel tax revenues, funding for several additional planned
freeway improvements in the Loop 1604 corridor had dried up.
Loop 1604 earmarked for toll lanes
a result of
these funding issues, the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC), at the
behest of the governor and using tools previously granted by the
Legislature and voters, ordered in December 2003 that "controlled-access
mobility projects in any phase of development or construction must be
evaluated for tolling. This includes new location facilities
increased capacity projects such as adding additional main lanes or
constructing new main lanes."
TxDOT, therefore, was compelled
to evaluate all Loop 1604 expressway improvements for possible
tolling. The evaluation showed that the anticipated traffic
volumes along 1604 made it viable for tolling, so per the TTC's order,
the projects were reclassified as toll projects and plans were made to
incorporate toll lanes into the designs for new lanes from Culebra Rd. to I-35 North.
consortium consisting of local construction giant Zachary and the
Spanish infrastructure company Cintra, which were working together on a
bid to operate one of the Trans Texas Corridor projects, submitted an
unsolicited bid to TxDOT to build the Loop 1604 tollway projects, as
well as the proposed US 281 toll project, in return for a 50-year lease to
operate the tollways. Because the bid had merit, TxDOT was
required under state law to fully evaluate the Cintra-Zachary bid and
accept any other bids for the projects. The Cintra-Zachary
not only paid for construction and subsequent maintenance and operation
of both roadways (which freed state funding for other
projects), it also paid a large franchise fee to the state that could
also be used to fund other projects. Based on those merits,
Cintra-Zachary bid was accepted in early 2005 and work started on the
US 281 project later that year. A subsequent lawsuit resulted
TxDOT canceling the Cintra-Zachary contract and sidelined the planned
US 281 and Loop 1604 toll projects indefinitely.
ARMA takes over
in 2007, the
Legislature passed a moratorium on nearly all new privately built
and/or operated toll roads and passed legislation requiring that local
Regional Mobility Authorities be given the right of first refusal on
toll projects in their jurisdiction. The Alamo Regional
Authority (ARMA), which was established by Bexar County in 2003,
subsequently opted to take control of both the 281 and 1604 toll
projects and put forth a $1.8 billion plan to upgrade and expand the
entire northern arc of Loop 1604 from Military Dr. on the west all the
way over to I-10 on the east. The required environmental
for that project was undertaken and during the scoping process
for that study, the
boundary for the project was set at I-35 North while the western
boundary was extended south to US 90. However, an unexpected
funding source became available in 2014 that allowed construction of
the western arc without tolls, so those projects were evaluated as
standalone projects for environmental clearance. This change
required the scope of the ongoing study to be adjusted and consequently
delayed the completion of the
Southern US 281/Loop 1604 interchange built
2009, Congress approved a national economic "stimulus" plan
that poured additional federal money into road construction
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 is building 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
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 is expected
be complete in early 2013. It
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 are resolved.
Those ramps will be built in Phase 1 of the US 281 expansion project.
approved using stimulus funds to expand Loop 1604 to a four lane
divided highway from FM 78 to Graytown Rd. near Randolph AFB.
That work was completed in September 2011. Also
2011, ARMA and TxDOT completed a package of improvements -- including
two "superstreet" intersections -- on Loop 1604 West at New Guilbeau and Shaenfield Rd.
New funding for toll-free expansions
2014, TxDOT and ARMA
announced funding had been secured
to expand Loop 1604's western arc from Braun Rd. south to US 90 using a
mix of various local funding sources from the Advanced Transportation
District and the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority.
However, this corridor was included in an ongoing federal
environmental study, which would not be complete for several year.
Since the funding for it was coming solely from local sources, it
no longer was required to comply with federal environmental rules,
so to avoid delaying those projects unnecessarily, that segment was
removed from the ongoing study and was approved under a state
environmental review. This had the side-effect of derailing that
ongoing study so that it could be re-scoped and re-started using the
new project limits, thus resulting in a substantial delay.
Tolls still needed
its session in early 2015, the Texas Legislature approved a new
funding source for
highways that will allocate approximately $2.5 billion from sales taxes
and motor vehicle sales taxes annually to highways. This may
someday allow the an expansion of Loop 1604 without tolls; however, as
of early 2017, there was still insufficient funding-- even from the new sources-- for such a mega-expansion
and therefore the project is still being planned to include a toll lane component.
As of early 2017, the new
environmental study for this project
was still underway and estimated to be completed sometime in 2017.
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