This image shows where new frontage roads on U.S. Highway 281 between Encino Rio and Evans Road will be located. Credit: Courtesy / Texas Department of Transportation

Weather permitting, motorists on U.S. 281 on the far North Side will be able to use new frontage roads starting Monday morning. But starting Friday night, turn lanes from westbound Encino Rio to southbound 281 will be closed for about a week.

Work crews will use alternating lane closures over the weekend as final preparations before opening new frontage lanes between Evans Road and Encino Rio.

This is part of the first phase of the 281 expansion project that runs between Loop 1604 and Stone Oak Parkway.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is overseeing expansion of the 281 corridor between 1604 and the Comal County line. Houston-based Webber is the project’s general contractor.

Beginning at 9 p.m. Friday, motorists will be using only the inside lanes of 281 while contractors prepare the outside lanes that eventually will transition to the new frontage roads.

Once motorists are able to use the new frontage roads, in both directions, contractors will concentrate their work on the expanded main lanes in the middle of the highway between Encino Rio and Evans.

TxDOT said it plans to open the frontage lanes to the public after 5 a.m. Monday.

“It’s a lot of moving parts,” Hernan Rozemberg, TxDOT-San Antonio public information officer, said in a Thursday livestream explaining this weekend’s road work.

TxDOT notes that when the frontage roads become operational Monday morning, motorists will still have available the same number of lanes while traversing this stretch of 281.

The northbound-to-southbound turnaround north of Encino Rio and the southbound-to-northbound turnaround between Encino Rio and Evans Road will remain closed. Motorists will need to take the next turnarounds to get where they are going.

After drivers switch to the new frontage lanes, contractors will spend about one week rebuilding the Encino Rio intersection between the newly constructed frontage roads, work that will take about a week.

During the construction, drivers on westbound Encino Rio will be permitted to make right turns only, onto northbound 281. Motorists trying to go southbound on 281 will need to take the turnaround north of Evans Road.

Work crews will use alternating lane closures on part of U.S. 281 North this weekend to prepare newly built frontage lanes for traffic between Encino Rio and Evans Road. Credit: Courtesy / Texas Department of Transportation

That’s not all. Contractors will also spend this weekend beginning work on the 281/Evans Road intersection, which will temporarily shift traffic on the west side of the intersection and decrease the number of available lanes from three to two in the eastbound direction.

This work at Evans and 281 will be done in two phases, and will take one month to finish, TxDOT has said.

During TxDOT-San Antonio’s livestream, VRX construction engineer Carlos Ayala said Phase I of the 281 expansion project is still on track to be complete by late 2020, one year ahead of schedule. A second phase of expansion work was launched a few weeks ago.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.