© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Business

Major 1604 Project Broke Ground Monday, Will Encompass 23 Miles Of Freeway

This post was originally published on Sunday, July 25, at 3 p.m. It has been updated.

Ground was formally broken Monday on the first segment of a massive $1 billion project to relieve bumper to bumper traffic on Loop 1604 from Bandera Road to I-35.

Local and state officials were in attendance.

The Texas Department of Transportation reports the first segment to be expanded is from Bandera Road to I-10 at a cost of $148 million.

It will be expanded from four lanes to 10 lanes with the addition of two general purpose lanes. There will also be one HOV lane in each direction and reconfigured auxiliary lanes and entrance and exit lanes.

Bicyclists and pedestrians will be better accommodated, and water quality will be better protected.

Work on the first segment is underway and should be completed by 2024.

The total project will encompass 23 miles of freeway.

Population growth has led to bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hours on that stretch of freeway through the far North and Northwest Sides.

Home developments north and west of 1604 have sprung up, helping to make San Antonio one of the fastest-growing major cities in the U.S. in recent years.

The state's top transportation official, TxDOT Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg Jr., said he himself found 1604 a little tough to drive to the ground-breaking.

"I just drove 1604 to get here for this event today. We saw the two lanes in each direction. You would think at 10:30 in the morning that would be prime time and you could probably zip along 1604. You're right, there is no prime time," he said.

Bugg said the 1604 corridor project is part of a record-breaking $7.2 billion worth of TxDOT projects completed, underway or planned in recent years for San Antonio.

It's also part of the department's Texas Clear Lanes project, which focuses on fixing the top 100 traffic "choke points" in the state's five largest cities, where 67% of Texans live.

San Antonio Mayor Pro Tem and District 6 Councilwoman, Melissa Cabello Havrda, said road complaints from constituents is a top concern of hers.

"I think the No. 1 reason that people elect our local officials is to take care of infrastructure issues, your roads, drainage, the pot holes. The things they see out their front door. Transportation is my No. 1 focus because its how we all get to work, we get to play," she said.

The segment at the 1604 and I-10 interchange is expected to see work begin in the fall and end in 2027, while work from I-10 to US 281 has also started and should be completed in 2025.

Two other segments remain unfunded: U.S. 281 to Redland Road and Redland Road to I-35. No construction dates have been announced for those portions of 1604 either.

State transportation officials say the Loop 1604 North corridor is one of the most congested in all of Texas according to a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

More than 150,000 drivers travel through the corridor each day with travel times between 29 to 37 minutes. By 2045, that number of motorists is expected to double.

Loop 1604 was known for decades as a dangerous two-lane roadway around the city that was nicknamed the "Death Loop" for the many head-on and other fatal crashes that occurred.

The loop has been greatly expanded since the1980s to keep up with San Antonio's ongoing population boom.

West Bexar County and areas north of 1604 or among the fastest growing in the county today.

Bugg said the state's current population of 29 million is expected to hit 47 million by 2050 or a jump of 62% and the San Antonio metro population will rise by 77% during the same time, from around 2.6 million to 4.6 million.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.