One year after construction began on the multi-phase project to expand Loop 1604 North, local and state officials marked the beginning of work on the second segment Wednesday.
The multi-phase improvement project targets 23 miles of Loop 1604 from State Highway 16 to Interstate 35 north in north Bexar County. Texas Department of Transportation officials said the expansion aims to improve mobility, ease congestion and cut travel time by up to 75% on the heavily used corridor.
Segment two of the project focuses on Loop 1604 and the Interstate 10 interchange. The $291 million enterprise is funded by the Texas Clear Lanes Project, an initiative of the Texas Transportation Commission to help advance projects to reduce congestion in metropolitan areas.
Gov. Greg Abbott was joined by J. Bruce Bugg Jr., chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, and Gina Gallegos, San Antonio district engineer for TxDOT, at the Valero Park Trailhead for a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
“Over 150,000 drivers travel along 1604 every single day, and that number is going to keep growing,” Gallegos said.
“In fact, by 2045, the number of drivers on Loop 1604 is projected to double. This is why the Loop 1604 North Expansion Project is a critical project. It’s designed to meet the traffic demand along the corridor now and in the future,” she said.
Abbott, in his address to a crowd of development professionals including nearly 40 TxDOT workers, touted growth in the state.
“People are clamoring to get here. Texas has led the nation for population growth for an entire decade now,” Abbott said. “In context, if Texas [were] a country, we would have the ninth largest economy in the entire world. All of this means that there’s going to be more people on our roads.”
Abbott used the Loop 1604 project as a catalyst to talk about statewide projects improving roads and eliminating congestion across Texas, including in Austin, Dallas and Houston.
“This work improves transportation for freight and that’s important because Texas ranks number one for exports,” Abbott said. “It will also attract more economic development and improve safety on roads, as well as the lives of our fellow Texans.”
The new project is the second of five segments to enter the construction phase, which is being overseen by Williams Brothers Construction Co.
Segment two is expected to be completed in 2027. Segment one, which began construction in May 2021 and is expected to cost $150 million, is 43% complete and will be finished in 2024. The $234 million construction of the third segment that began in November 2021 is 24% complete and will be finished in 2025.
The remainder of the expansion from U.S. 281 to I-35 is currently unfunded and therefore has no timeline. However, TxDOT and The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization are working to obtain funding to complete the expansion.
It’s possible the remainder of the expansion could receive funding through the recent federal infrastructure bill and that it would be broken into three or more projects for construction.
“The U.S. Census says the population in the state of Texas is 29 million Texans,” Bugg said. “The state demographer has said that by 2050 — it’s hard to believe — 28 years from now, we’re gonna grow by 62% and be at 47 million Texans.”
Bugg also pointed out that by 2045, there will be more than 290,000 cars on Loop 1604 every day, compared to the current 150,000 cars a day.
“That has a profound effect on our planning for transportation because we can’t just focus on things for today. We have to look down the road at these planning projects,” he said.