While the Texas Department of Transportation is due to finish expanding US 281 in north Bexar County in 2023, the new year will bring more road work across the north side—with ongoing improvements on Loop 1604, and new street and drainage projects in San Antonio and Shavano Park, according to transportation plans.

TxDOT officials said they are ramping up a multiyear initiative to upgrade Loop 1604 between West I-10 and I-35.

Elsewhere, TxDOT is nearly done broadening US 281 between Stone Oak Parkway and West Borgfeld Drive, and continuing improvements on Northwest Military Highway in Shavano Park.

For its part, Shavano Park is about to launch a series of bond-funded repairs on several city streets and cul-de-sacs, and the city of San Antonio is planning dozens of road infrastructure fixes funded by its 2022 bond, including projects affecting residents and motorists in the Wurzbach Road and Vance Jackson Road area.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is among several local leaders who said these and other infrastructure projects are designed to reduce traffic wait times, bolster vehicular transportability, and enhance safety on roads and freeways around a metropolitan area that state demographers estimate will reach a population of 3.1 million in 2030.

“The projects included in the 2022 [San Antonio] bond propositions are important investments in our infrastructure that will improve quality of life by addressing needs, including traffic congestion and pedestrian mobility,” Nirenberg said.

US 281 and Loop 1604

TxDOT is overseeing separate projects on two intersecting highways that are envisioned for further improvement, said Jennifer Serold, public information officer with TxDOT’s San Antonio District.

TxDOT is slated to finish expanding US 281 north of Loop 1604 from four to 10 lanes this April, Serold said.

Phase 2 of the US 281 expansion—from Stone Oak Parkway to the Comal County line—began in March 2019 at a cost of $168.8 million, Serold said.

Phase 1 of the $179.5 million US 281 expansion, between Loop 1604 and Stone Oak Parkway, lasted from July 2017 to late 2020, she said.

Serold said activities on Loop 1604 between I-10 and US 281 are presently focused on widening lanes between Stone Oak Parkway and Blanco Road, and west of Huebner Road; utility work at the Blanco Road/Loop 1604 intersection; and improving existing bridges and retaining walls.

Serold said, so far, there are no significant challenges for the Loop 1604 expansion, which began in May 2021. Work on Loop 1604 from Bandera Road to US 281 is anticipated for completion in 2025 and estimated to cost $800 million total. TxDOT has not given a timeline for the planned expansion of Loop 1604 eastward from US 281 to I-35.

“There have been no setbacks due to labor shortages or supply chain issues, and the project remains within budget,” Serold said of Loop 1604.

TxDOT has not yet announced a start time for a planned, separate overhaul of the Blanco Road at Loop 1604 intersection, which will take two years to do, Serold said. The project is estimated to cost $38 million, she said, adding that contractors will continue utility work at that intersection throughout 2023.

Shavano Park, Bexar County updates

As TxDOT contractors roll on with adding a center turn lane, sidewalks and bicycle lanes to Northwest Military Highway, residents are also preparing for what officials envision as a series of road repairs around town.

Mayor Bob Werner said he was pleased with TxDOT being ahead of schedule on its $10.8 million Northwest Military Highway project, as the state agency estimates a late October 2023 completion time.

“While there have been struggles, our public works staff has done a tremendous job adapting to coordinate with TxDOT and the contractor,” Werner said.

Shavano Park officials also held a town hall meeting Jan. 18 to update residents about plans to use the May 2022 voter-approved $10 million city bond to improve 14 city streets and cul-de-sacs east and west of Northwest Military Highway beginning in mid-2023.

“We anticipate going out for bids and awarding a contract in the April-May period,” Werner said.

Shavano Park is also using its bond to leverage federal funds to upgrade drainage and walkability on DeZavala Road with help from District 23 U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, who asked for $4 million for DeZavala and other road projects.

“It is critical for community drainage as well as other bike and pedestrian improvements,” Werner said. “Our road system is critical to our community, and with city staff, City Council has outlined our plan for the next 20-25 years in an affordable fashion.”

In unincorporated Bexar County, officials said they are nearly done upgrading Bulverde Road near Johnson High School and are preparing to launch a project on the northernmost stretch of Blanco Road.

The $13.3 million addition of two lanes and a median/turn lane to a 6,300-foot segment of Bulverde Road north of Marshall Road is on time and budget, said Renee Green, county engineer and public works director.

“We are still on track for the March 2023 end date, weather permitting,” Green said.

The county is also planning a third phase of work on Blanco Road, upgrading the street from two to four lanes from West Borgfeld Drive to the Comal County line at an estimated cost of $23.9 million.

New San Antonio projects

San Antonio and Bexar County have both seen explosive growth and with that the strain that an increased population puts on roads, highways and traffic congestion.

The U.S. Census shows Bexar County’s population grew from 1.71 million in 2010 to 2 million in 2020—a 17.1% increase. State demographers project the county’s population to rise another 29.3% and hit 2.59 million by 2040.

As it wraps up projects from a $850 million bond approved by voters in 2017, the city of San Antonio is preplanning numerous initiatives supported by a $1.2 billion bond that voters passed in May 2022.

San Antonio’s 2022 bond contains $471.5 million for 62 street, bridge and sidewalk projects citywide, including an extension of Sonterra Boulevard, drainage enhancements on Evans Road and George Road, and varied improvements for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in the Bitters Road/Loop 1604 area.

The 2022 bond will also support widening and traffic signal upgrades at Vance Jackson and Wurzbach Road as well as street, drainage, sidewalk and bike lane improvements on Vance Jackson between Wurzbach and Huebner roads.

City Public Works spokesperson April Alcoser Luna said the design phase for these and other 2022 bond projects are estimated to begin late this spring or in early summer.

District 8 City Council Member Manny Pelaez said he and his constituents look forward to not only the 2022 bond projects affecting their community, but also a 2017 bond initiative meant to lower traffic congestion at key intersections along Wurzbach Road between Northwest Military Highway and Fredericksburg Road.

Luna said the city has not yet identified a timeline for the 2017 bond’s Wurzbach Road project, which will include state and federal funding.

Pelaez said the Wurzbach Road/Vance Jackson Road improvement project will tie into TxDOT’s Wurzbach Parkway project, where contractors are applying final touches of upgrades there.

Pelaez said the Wurzbach/Vance Jackson road project will also boost traffic flow through Wurzbach Road to Wurzbach Parkway and complement the planned widening of Vance Jackson from Wurzbach Road to Huebner Road.

“There has been exponential growth throughout District 8, and it made sense to expand Vance Jackson Road to this location to accommodate increased traffic as it connects to important attractions located off Loop 1604,” Pelaez said.