TxDOT, VIA celebrate opening of new HOV lanes on Highway 281

Long-awaited highway expansion project considered ‘substantially complete’

A ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday marked the opening of new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Highway 281 between Stone Oak Parkway and Loop 1604.

SAN ANTONIO – A ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday marked the opening of new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Highway 281 between Stone Oak Parkway and Loop 1604. The lanes are part of Phase I of the U.S. 281 North Expansion Project, which has added new highway lanes, flyover ramps and other improvements to the corridor.

The area is one of the fastest growing parts of the San Antonio region, and drivers on Highway 281 have dealt with a lot of the impact of that growth.

“This project [addresses] one of the top 100 of the most congested choke points in the state of Texas … a million hours a year of people just sitting in traffic and over $24 million in gas that’s just wasted,” said J. Bruce Bugg, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission.

The Texas Department of Transportation is partnering with VIA Metropolitan Transit on the new HOV lanes, as it does with the lanes on Interstate 10 West. The lanes are reserved for vehicles with more than one occupant, as well as carpools, vanpools or buses. Unlike in other cities, the HOV lanes in Bexar County operate 24 hours a day.

“The rapid growth happening along the US 281 North corridor is driving the growth in our region and the need for more and better transportation options, which this partnership project provides, “VIA President and CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt said. “HOV lanes offer an alternative to idling in traffic, support transit-oriented communities and economic development, and help keep SA moving. That’s always the goal.”

The project also includes a direct ramp from VIA’s Stone Oak Park and Ride to the HOV lanes. New express bus service from the park and ride will launch on Monday.

Phase II of the project is planned on Highway 281 north of Stone Oak Parkway, up to Borgfeld Drive.

“We’re excited to celebrate the completion of the first phase of this much-needed project,” Gallegos said. “We look forward to completion of Phase II in 2023 and improving mobility for more than 91,000 drivers that travel the US 281 North corridor each day.”

The project will cost an estimated $527 million for both phases, coming from sources besides the partners including the City of San Antonio and Bexar County. The project also included state and federal funding administered by the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

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About the Author:

Samuel King anchors traffic during GMSA and reports on transportation and mobility issues across the San Antonio region. He joined the KSAT 12 news team in 2020 from KUT in Austin. Samuel was born in Queens, spent time growing up in South Alabama and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.