Bexar County’s first high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane is set to open next week on Interstate 10 north of Loop 1604, the Texas Department of Transportation and VIA Metropolitan Transit announced Friday. The exact date and time are pending, said TxDOT Public Information Officer Jennifer Serold.

The eastbound HOV lane will be open from Ralph Fair Road to La Cantera Parkway and will offer drivers carrying at least one passenger in their vehicle a designated lane to bypass regular traffic. The westbound lane is set to open later this fall, VIA said. 

This is the first of three VIA-managed HOV corridors built in partnership with TxDOT to open. The second corridor, on U.S. Highway 281, will extend from Loop 1604 to north of Stone Oak Parkway and is expected to open in 2021. A third corridor on U.S. 281 running from north of Stone Oak Parkway to Borgfeld Road is set for completion in 2023. 

HOV lanes are exclusively reserved for vehicles carrying two or more occupants, including buses, carpools, vanpools, motorcycles, emergency response vehicles, and law enforcement vehicles. The areas selected for these HOV lanes have been historically high-traffic corridors, VIA said in its statement. 

Upon the completion of all planned HOV corridors, there will be 14 miles of HOV lanes in each direction, for a total of 28 miles in Bexar County. This will include a 5-mile stretch on I-10, and a 9-mile stretch on U.S. 281 North.  

The projects have been funded through TxDOT from state Propositions 1 and 7. Proposition 1, approved by Texas voters in 2014, designates a portion of existing Texas oil and gas production taxes to the State Highway Fund. Proposition 7, approved by voters in 2015, designates a portion of sales and use taxes, as well as a portion of motor vehicle sales and rental taxes, toward the construction and maintenance for public roadways. 

“The opening of HOV lanes is a culmination of several years of community engagement, planning, and construction,” said TxDOT San Antonio District Engineer Mario Jorge in the VIA statement. “TxDOT is committed to delivering transportation projects that will prepare for our future growth by mitigating congestion, enhancing connectivity, and improving safety across the San Antonio region.”

VIA President Jeffrey Arndt said HOV lanes are the next step in VIA’s collaboration with TxDOT and with San Antonio leaders to address current and future congestion concerns. VIA said it hoped the HOV lanes will encourage ride sharing, decrease commute times, reduce highway traffic, and lower air pollution, all goals of its Keep SA Moving Plan.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the Science & Utilities reporter for the San Antonio Report.