The Flyover Fairy finally blesses San Antonio

Framegrab from dashcam video of work on the SH 151/Loop 410 interchange flyovers

Ask any roadgeek (yes, it’s a thing) and they’ll tell you that nobody (perhaps with the possible exception of California, blah!) does freeway flyovers like Texas.  And in Texas, Houston was once the undisputed King of the Flyover, although Dallas had had a nice collection of big– albeit cookie-cutter– interchanges since the ’70s even before the impressive “High Five” interchange came along in 2005.  But while doing a drive through of the abundant road work over in the SH 151 and US 90 areas here in San Antonio earlier this week, I couldn’t help but be impressed by dizzying number of flyovers now under construction here and it got me to thinking about the number of such interchanges either already open, under construction, or coming soon here in “the 210” (or is it now “the 210/726”?)

Back in 1985, we had none.  There were a couple of ramps in the Fratt Interchange (Loop 410NE/I-35) that were “close but no cigar.”  And yes, we had several nice “legacy stack” interchanges at I-35/US 90, I-37/I-10, I-37/Loop 410, and the dizzying “mixmaster” of an interchange at I-35/I-37/US 281.  But none of those had the long, high-flying, single-column ramps that had become standard in metro Texas interchanges since in the early ’80s.  By the late ’80s, though, we finally had our first two interchanges with modern flyovers: the “Downtown Y” intersection of I-10 and I-35 and the pretty impressive US 90/SH 151 interchange.

Then nothing for two decades.  It was enough to give a certain local roadgeek a case of interchange envy of our high-flying friends in Houston and Dallas… and, by the early 2000s, even of freeway-phobic Austin.

Finally, in the mid aughts, the Flyover Fairy returned to San Antonio with a bit of a vengeance and the first two fully flyover-laden interchanges opened, both on Loop 410 at I-10 and at US 281, the latter including a bonus– a nice, nearly mile-long flyover right into the airport.  Then the Loop 410/Bandera interchange, with its own crazy-long flyovers, opened in 2009.  Shortly after that, work started on the first phase of the US 281/Loop 1604 interchange, which opened in 2012 and arguably has the highest current flyover in town, or at least it seems like it (my tape measure isn’t long enough to confirm.)  That was followed in 2016 by the solitary Loop 1604/SH 151 flyover.

So, by my count, San Antonio now has seven interchanges with “modern flyovers.”  Four more are currently under construction, with three of those practically within sight of each other: US 90 at Loops 410 and 1604 and Loop 410 at SH 151.  The other one is the second and final phase of the US 281/Loop 1604 interchange, which will make that the third full interchange in town with modern flyovers and the first five-level interchange in town.

Even more are on the way.  There are currently five more new ones in active planning that I know of: I-10E at Loops 410 and 1604, Loop 1604 at I-35N and at I-10W, and I-35S at Loop 410, along with phase two of the Loop 410/SH 151 interchange.  That one, and the I-10E/Loop 410 project, are both currently penciled-in for a 2020 start.  In addition to those, there are proposals for four more interchanges related to the Kelly Parkway, should it ever be built: at US 90W, I-35S, Loop 410S, and SH 16S.  And a recent study on a downtown bypass route for I-35 included proposals for some big new flyovers at all four of the downtown interchanges.  There are probably some more long-term, conceptual ones for roads like SH 211 that I haven’t seen yet.

So after a slow start, San Antonio is catching-up quick to our sister Texas metros and my envy is finally waning.



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