Home | About me | Contact | What's new | Privacy | Search
 

San Antonio
Freeway system
  Primer
  Fwy system history
  2019 traffic statistics
  The freeways
    I-10 East
    I-10 West
    I-35 North
    I-35 South
    I-37
    Kelly Pkwy
    Loop 410 (I-410)
    Loop 1604
    SH 151
    Spur 371
    US 90 West
    US 281 North
    Wurzbach Pkwy
  Construction projects
    I-10E Exp (410-1604)
    I-10E Exp (Graytown)
    I-10E/Loop 410
    I-10 Boerne area
    I-10/Woodlake
    I-35 Comal Projects
    I-35 NEX
    Loop 410/SH 151
    Loop 410/US 281
    LP 1604N Expansion
    LP 1604/Blanco
    LP 1604/FM 78-I-10
    LP 1604/I-35-FM 78
    SH 151 Expansion
    SH 151/LP 1604
    US 90W Expansion
    US 90/Loop 410
    US 281N Expansion
    US 281 Comal Exp
    US 281/Basse
    US 281/Jones-Mltsbrg
    Wurzbach/NW Military
  Etcetera
    HOV lanes
    Media galleries
    Tollway system
    TransGuide
    10/1604 yield signs
    History of 281/410
Other roads
History
FAQs

Search this site
 
This site is not affiliated with any official agency.


ADVERTISEMENT

US 281 Other San Antonio Area Roads
US 281 Comal County Expansion Project

This page last updated June 5, 2021

ADVERTISEMENT
This 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, as a result, details may change before the project goes to construction. This page will be updated when future schematics for this project are available.
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 currently planning to 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.


Superstreet Looking for information on the US 281 expansion in Bexar County? See the US 281 North Expansion Project page.

On this page


Current plans and background

Background
In 2000, TxDOT announced plans to upgrade US 281 to a conventional, non-tolled six-lane freeway 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 extended to Borgfeld. This sparked a long battle with toll road opponents that delayed the project multiple times. With new non-toll revenue becoming available, that project finally got underway in 2017.

The overpass at SH 46 was built in 1978 in conjunction with widening 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.

Current expansion plans
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 widen 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.

This project would include a soutbound access road from SH 46 to just north of Flightline Rd. and would include sidewalks throughout the project.

This 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 footprint further.

This project is currently unfunded, so there is no timetable for its construction.


CROSS-SECTIONS


CURRENT



PLANNED



NOTE
Number of access road lanes varies depending on location. Most locations will have three access road lanes in each direction.
Diagrams are for illustrative purposes only and are not to scale.

Schematic

Click on 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.


FAQ

  • Will this project be tolled?
    No. Although earlier versions of the US 281 expansion in Bexar County included tolled lanes, funding was secured to remove the toll 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.

  • Will this project have an HOV lane?
    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 the future.

  • The plans show two mainlanes in each direction, but there are already two lanes in each direction here, so how is this an improvement?
    This is a 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 mainlanes do 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.

    Also, 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 or seven surface road lanes in each direction, which triples the number of lanes that are there today. 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.


  • Okay, but there needs to be at least three mainlanes in each direction-- two lanes will soon result in congestion like that on Loop 1604.
    Planners 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 is also around 20 years.) Although nobody has a crystal ball and can tell what traffic volumes will be two decades from now, the best estimates show that two 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 comparison, the section of Loop 1604 North between US 281 and I-10 carries over 150,000 vehicles per day.


Other sites of interest

TxDOT - US 281 South Comal County
https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/san-antonio/us-281-south-comal-county.html




If you found this informative, please consider making a small donation to help support it. Thanks!

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

NOTICE
The information provided on this website is provided on an "as-is" basis without warranties of any kind either express or implied.  The author and his agents make no warranties or representations of any kind concerning any information contained in this website.  This website is provided only as general information.  The author expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based upon the information contained herein or with respect to any errors or omissions in such information.  All opinions expressed are strictly those of the author.  This site is not affiliated in any way with any official agency.