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Author Topic: US 281 in San Antonio  (Read 6427 times)

Bobby5280

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #50 on: May 10, 2021, 11:52:44 PM »

The US-281 corridor has a lot of potential from the North side of San Antonio up at least to US-190 (edit: not US-290) in Lampasas where I-14 could be built someday.

The most difficult segment of US-281 to upgrade would be from Cibolo Creek (where the current Phase 2 freeway project ends) up through Bulverde and Spring Branch to the Guadalupe River. Freeway exits already exist at the intersections of Bulverde Road and TX-46.

North of the Guadalupe River US-281 (edit: not US-290) would be relatively easy to upgrade. The divided highway is a frontage road style setup up to FM-306. US-281 drops to 2 lanes North of that intersection, but there appears to be an ample amount of ROW available for expansion into a wide, 4-lane divided highway with future freeway upgrade potential. Bypasses would be necessary for towns to the North (Blanco, Johnson City, Marble Falls, Burnet). Still, I think it's reasonable for a US-281 freeway to, over time, extend up to Lampasas.

North of Lampasas I think a good case can be made to 4-lane US-281 to Wichita Falls. The military might like such a thing. Some troops have to drive between Fort Sill and Fort Hood. They often use US-281 for that purpose.

Edit: I don't know why I had US-290 on the brain so much to let it override typing the correct routes. But US-290 needs its own upgrades going West out of Austin. The population level is exploding in that region and it will need freeway improvements, both on existing freeways like I-35 and the addition of relief routes such as US-281.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 12:19:08 AM by Bobby5280 »
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sprjus4

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #51 on: May 11, 2021, 12:46:04 AM »

The most difficult segment of US-281 to upgrade would be from Cibolo Creek (where the current Phase 2 freeway project ends) up through Bulverde and Spring Branch to the Guadalupe River. Freeway exits already exist at the intersections of Bulverde Road and TX-46.
Thatís what this upcoming project would cover, at least up to SH-46. The interchange at SH-46 per the public notice from TxDOT would be fully replaced with a new overpass designed for future expansion, while the one at Bulverde Rd would be retained. One-way frontage roads would be constructed along the entire corridor in each direction in typical Texas fashion.

I agree, long term it would be good to upgrade it to at least US-190 / Future I-14. It would also provide a western bypass of Austin entirely for I-35 through traffic.
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In_Correct

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #52 on: May 11, 2021, 06:21:06 AM »

Project Tracker has numerous road projects for U.S. 281 between Wichita Falls and San Antonio. They are not enough to indicate a complete Super Highway, (as no bypasses are planned) but it is a good start. At the speed that the roads are being constructed, large amounts of traffic will certainly be there. Even now Interstate 35 has too much traffic. Adding more lanes to Interstate 35 solves some of the problems, but the traffic at times still could be very slow and even detours needed such as U.S. 281 and U.S. 377. A U.S. 281 Super Highway would benefit Wichita Falls and San Antonio without needing to go through Fort Worth and Austin.
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Bobby5280

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #53 on: May 12, 2021, 12:22:26 AM »

I think a US-281 super highway that went clear from San Antonio up to Wichita Falls would attract a BIG amount of long distance commercial truck traffic. They could bypass DFW and Austin and then use the connection to I-44 as a gateway from Texas up to the Northeast US. As I said earlier, the US Army (and even the Air Force) would like the improvement.
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sprjus4

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #54 on: May 12, 2021, 12:59:48 AM »

I think a US-281 super highway that went clear from San Antonio up to Wichita Falls would attract a BIG amount of long distance commercial truck traffic. They could bypass DFW and Austin and then use the connection to I-44 as a gateway from Texas up to the Northeast US. As I said earlier, the US Army (and even the Air Force) would like the improvement.
I could see a reasonable long range plan to extend Interstate 37 along the US-281 corridor north towards Wichita Falls, then overtook the corridor up to Oklahoma City, truncating I-44 back to Oklahoma City. That way to have a single designation corridor paralleling I-35 between San Antonio and Oklahoma City as opposed to two.

Don't tell the grid sticklers though  :banghead:

I agree though, US-281 should be widened to at minimum a 4 lane divided highway throughout with town bypasses.
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kphoger

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #55 on: May 12, 2021, 09:42:15 AM »


I think a US-281 super highway that went clear from San Antonio up to Wichita Falls would attract a BIG amount of long distance commercial truck traffic. They could bypass DFW and Austin and then use the connection to I-44 as a gateway from Texas up to the Northeast US. As I said earlier, the US Army (and even the Air Force) would like the improvement.

I could see a reasonable long range plan to extend Interstate 37 along the US-281 corridor north towards Wichita Falls, then overtook the corridor up to Oklahoma City, truncating I-44 back to Oklahoma City. That way to have a single designation corridor paralleling I-35 between San Antonio and Oklahoma City as opposed to two.

Don't tell the grid sticklers though  :banghead:

I agree though, US-281 should be widened to at minimum a 4 lane divided highway throughout with town bypasses.

Heck, I'd settle for the bypasses.
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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #56 on: May 12, 2021, 10:37:45 AM »

I think a US-281 super highway that went clear from San Antonio up to Wichita Falls would attract a BIG amount of long distance commercial truck traffic. They could bypass DFW and Austin and then use the connection to I-44 as a gateway from Texas up to the Northeast US. As I said earlier, the US Army (and even the Air Force) would like the improvement.
I could see a reasonable long range plan to extend Interstate 37 along the US-281 corridor north towards Wichita Falls, then overtook the corridor up to Oklahoma City, truncating I-44 back to Oklahoma City. That way to have a single designation corridor paralleling I-35 between San Antonio and Oklahoma City as opposed to two.

Don't tell the grid sticklers though  :banghead:

I agree though, US-281 should be widened to at minimum a 4 lane divided highway throughout with town bypasses.

The hell with the gridmorons.  It's in the German style of autobahnen still with numbers nearby their neighbors.  37 could continue up the west side of OKC on new terrain and come back to 35 well north of OKC.  It could multiplex to Wichita and then subsume 135.
.
But, as to US 281 being four lanes from San Antonio to Wichita Falls, that would make total sense.... just like what you were thinking about I believe... the way US 290 was upgraded from Houston to Austin years ago to four lanes.  I remember when it was two lanes, it was hell.
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armadillo speedbump

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #57 on: May 12, 2021, 11:11:06 AM »

Even with acceleration of the already rapidly growing SA/Austin population, a freeway won't be needed north of Spring Branch for many, many years.  4-laning north to Hico and 220/67 to Cleburne is sufficient, along with some bypasses over time.  Eventual medians added to the undivided sections.

I'd guess Marble Falls, Lampasas, and Burnet would be the biggest timesaving bypasses, with Lampasas having the most utility given the confluence of so many key routes.  Johnson City really doesn't slow down a trip much, same for Evant.

Money doesn't grow on trees and inflation is going to screw us all thanks to undisciplined wasteful spending.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 11:13:30 AM by armadillo speedbump »
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sprjus4

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #58 on: May 12, 2021, 01:16:50 PM »

Important to note that a freeway design up to at least FM-306 was envisioned at some point in the future given the recent widening provided a nearly 300 foot median for a future mainline. The intersections are already equipped with all the typical interchange features like the U-Turn lanes. The current roadway would eventually be a frontage road.
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Bobby5280

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #59 on: May 12, 2021, 06:51:26 PM »

With the way the Austin-San Antonio region is growing and forecast to further grow it will be very important for potential relief routes like US-281 to be improved dramatically. US-281 will need to be Interstate quality considerably farther North than just Spring Branch. I would say US-290 and Johnson City would be the minimum for long term improvement. Interstate quality up to Lampasas, US-190 and a possible connection to I-14 would make more sense.

In other highly populated regions of the US there are parallel super highway routes that compliment each other. There's I-5 and CA-99 in California's Central Valley. I-95, I-295 and the New Jersey Turnpike run parallel to each other much of the way between Wilmington, DE and the Southern outskirts of metro NYC. The DC-Baltimore area has similar examples. Same for South Florida.

I-35 from San Antonio up thru Austin is pretty over-loaded. I don't think the TX-130 toll road was designed efficiently enough to work as a proper I-35 relief route for both commercial and personal vehicle traffic. US-281 could effectively relieve more of the long distance traffic burden, particularly if the highway is at least 4-laned up to Wichita Falls.
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sprjus4

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #60 on: May 12, 2021, 06:55:00 PM »

I don't think the TX-130 toll road was designed efficiently enough to work as a proper I-35 relief route for both commercial and personal vehicle traffic.
For the Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio corridor, it's an effective bypass for avoiding Austin. Now, traffic from Oklahoma to San Antonio and points south... there could be better options... but it still is effective for traffic sticking to the I-35 corridor for that particular portion.
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In_Correct

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #61 on: May 12, 2021, 07:48:50 PM »

The upgrades for U.S. 281 is not one bizarre proposal such as a proposal for Interstate 14. It is multiple upgrades that will be built over the years. No need to worry about Big Spending. It is also unlikely that they will plan for a very jagged corridor since many of the towns that would need to be bypassed would not want to have much to do with U.S. 281 after that. It would be necessary to realign U.S. 281 away from the towns and give them Business Routes. The Frontage Roads First Setups should continue with the Super Highway being completed a while longer after that.

Highways near D.F.W. are needing as much attention as U.S. 290 did. U.S. 81, U.S. 82, U.S. 287, U.S. 377, and U.S. 380 are examples of roads that must have upgrades. Unfortunately, waiting until it is too late makes it impossible for some of these highways to get the needed upgrades.

U.S. 380 from McKinney to Denton is an example of being too late to upgrade. Cross Roads might be able to accommodate upgrades. But with McKinney and Denton, they are in the middle of town. Construction Cranes every where right this very minute are all over the place. This results in an even more of increase to the constant traffic that is in U.S. 380. All of these highways and even Super Highways such as Interstate 35 have immense traffic. It is nearly impossible to construct badly needed upgrades to the Interchanges along Interstate 35, which often makes Interstate 35 unusable while people attempt to exit and enter Interstate 35.

The Interchange upgrades need to be this:

https://i.imgur.com/XBAJ74O.jpg

In Texas, people try to drive 2 out of their 3 + cars simultaneously.

Currently, U.S. 281 is far enough away from development. At least acquire the Right Of Way and preserve it ( this includes Right Of Way for very large Interchanges ) as the areas are not going to stay empty much longer.
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kphoger

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #62 on: May 13, 2021, 09:28:47 AM »


I don't think the TX-130 toll road was designed efficiently enough to work as a proper I-35 relief route for both commercial and personal vehicle traffic.

For the Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio corridor, it's an effective bypass for avoiding Austin. Now, traffic from Oklahoma to San Antonio and points south... there could be better options... but it still is effective for traffic sticking to the I-35 corridor for that particular portion.

When I've used TX-130, it was while driving from Wichita to Monterrey and points southwest.  That is, for me it was a true bypass of I-35:  I departed I-35 at Georgetown and rejoined it on the south side of San Antonio (and vice versa on the return trip).  However, that indeed leaves the real reason I no longer go that route when driving to Mexico:  there's no good alternate route around DallasĖFort Worth.

My dream would be for a route from Wichita Falls to San Antonio that either (1) bypasses most of the towns along the way or (2) goes through them as an expressway (not necessarily freeway, but at least stop-free).  Four lanes the whole way would be great, but some sections would probably still be fine with alternating passing lanes.

For such an alternate route, TX-16 could work, but US-281 makes a lot more sense.
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webny99

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #63 on: May 13, 2021, 04:54:44 PM »

My dream would be for a route from Wichita Falls to San Antonio that either (1) bypasses most of the towns along the way or (2) goes through them as an expressway (not necessarily freeway, but at least stop-free).  Four lanes the whole way would be great, but some sections would probably still be fine with alternating passing lanes.

For such an alternate route, TX-16 could work, but US-281 makes a lot more sense.

Approximately how much of that stretch of US 281 is four lanes currently?

sprjus4

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #64 on: May 13, 2021, 04:58:54 PM »

Very little of US-281 is 4 lanes north of Spring Branch, itís mostly a 2 lane road all the way to Wichita Falls passing through every town along the way. Thereís a couple 4 lane divided segments here and there but thatís about it.
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J N Winkler

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #65 on: May 13, 2021, 06:51:18 PM »

Here is the situation on US 281 between San Antonio (Loop 1604) and Wichita Falls (US 287), in terms of continuous passing opportunity (defined as at least two lanes in each direction):

*  Loop 1604 to FM 306--24 miles (generally four-lane divided)

*  US 290 overlap (north end in Johnson City)--6 miles (four-lane divided)

*  Johnson City to CR 110 south of Evant--83 miles (four-lane undivided "poor boy")

*  SH 199 junction southeast of Jacksboro to SH 114 junction northwest--16 miles (four-lane divided in rural areas, with undivided sections with center turn lane in periurban areas)

*  FM 1954 to US 287 (final length leading into Wichita Falls)--6 miles (mix of four-lane divided and undivided "poor boy")

That is a total of 135 miles out of 320 that are at least four lanes with two in each direction.  (I didn't attempt to count urban four-lane sections connecting two-lane segments at either end.)  When I drove this route between Jacksboro and Johnson City as part of a 2016 visit to the LBJ ranch and San Antonio, I found it to be tiring.  While the two-lane sections generally have passing lanes, traffic is heavy enough that it is difficult to avoid spending a large share of driving time in platoons.  Much of this length is chipsealed and I blame it specifically for paint damage to the hood of the car I was driving (no chip in paint before, chip in paint after).
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sprjus4

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #66 on: May 13, 2021, 07:16:54 PM »

Did not realize the long ďpoor boyĒ stretch north of Johnson City, thatís relieving to some extent.

Iíve not personally driven this corridor that far north of San Antonio - obviously - but was considering such this upcoming summer coming down from Oklahoma City to San Antonio as an alternative to I-35 and SH-130. Any suggestions for I-44 / US-281 vs. I-35 or potentially any other routes?

One reason I sort of saw US-281 as a more unpopular option was mainly the fact itís still mostly 2 lanes combined with the heavier traffic load and trucks it has with limited passing opportunities. Itís almost sounding like if I simply hit I-35 at a better time (i.e. Fort Worth not at peak hours), combined with SH-130, Iíd mostly be better off with that.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 07:19:26 PM by sprjus4 »
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webny99

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #67 on: May 13, 2021, 07:51:52 PM »

Here is the situation on US 281 between San Antonio (Loop 1604) and Wichita Falls (US 287), in terms of continuous passing opportunity (defined as at least two lanes in each direction):

*  Loop 1604 to FM 306--24 miles (generally four-lane divided)

Thanks for the detailed overview! This first segment is the only one I'm personally familiar with, having driven it during my 2017 visit.


That is a total of 135 miles out of 320 that are at least four lanes with two in each direction.  (I didn't attempt to count urban four-lane sections connecting two-lane segments at either end.)  When I drove this route between Jacksboro and Johnson City as part of a 2016 visit to the LBJ ranch and San Antonio, I found it to be tiring.  While the two-lane sections generally have passing lanes, traffic is heavy enough that it is difficult to avoid spending a large share of driving time in platoons. ...

One reason I sort of saw US-281 as a more unpopular option was mainly the fact itís still mostly 2 lanes combined with the heavier traffic load and trucks it has with limited passing opportunities. Itís almost sounding like if I simply hit I-35 at a better time (i.e. Fort Worth not at peak hours), combined with SH-130, Iíd mostly be better off with that.

That's what I was thinking as well. US 281 sounds like it would make a reasonable bypass of Austin, but too much two-lane highway remaining to be a good bypass of Dallas-Fort Worth. For a long-distance trip, I can't imagine it would be better than whatever traffic issues may arise in DFW outside of peak times.

J N Winkler

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #68 on: May 14, 2021, 03:30:44 AM »

Iíve not personally driven this corridor that far north of San Antonio - obviously - but was considering such this upcoming summer coming down from Oklahoma City to San Antonio as an alternative to I-35 and SH-130. Any suggestions for I-44 / US-281 vs. I-35 or potentially any other routes?

One reason I sort of saw US-281 as a more unpopular option was mainly the fact itís still mostly 2 lanes combined with the heavier traffic load and trucks it has with limited passing opportunities. Itís almost sounding like if I simply hit I-35 at a better time (i.e. Fort Worth not at peak hours), combined with SH-130, Iíd mostly be better off with that.

I liked US 281 for the scenery--it is actually in the Hill Country, not just along the eastern fringe.  But I did take I-35 (including I-35W in Fort Worth, but not SH 130) on the way back, and even with heavy construction going on in Waco, I found it a bit less stressful than dealing with the platoons on two-lane US 281.  Since it is a freeway, rest areas and truck stops are more plentiful.  And although I-35W is not quiet, it is one of the easier ways through the Chinese wall that is DFW.

One option to consider may be to take I-35 to near Fort Hood and then I-14/US 190 west to US 281 at Lampasas.  This puts you in the Hill Country and then it is either poor-boy or four-lane divided all the way to the south end of the US 290 overlap.  I don't know about conditions between Johnson City and San Antonio, however, since the LBJ Ranch part of my trip took me to Fredericksburg on US 290 and then back east via US 87 and I-10.

On my way south (from Wichita), I took I-44 out of Oklahoma City, then US 81 to Bowie, Texas, followed by SH 59 to pick up US 281 at Jacksboro.  The SH 59 leg was a mistake--70 limit but lots of curves with reduced advisory speeds.  If I had to do it again, I'd probably cross the Red River via SH 79 and pick up SH 148 at Petrolia.  It is then apparently a mostly straight shot to Jacksboro.
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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #69 on: May 14, 2021, 01:13:08 PM »

When my friends drove from Wichita (KS) to Kerrville (TX) a couple of years ago, I recommended them to take TX-16 all the way from Windthorst (just south of Wichita Falls).  They enjoyed the drive.  When I plot a course on Google Maps right now from Guthrie (OK) to Pearsall (TX), here is how it breaks down:

Going 85 mph:   I-35 → (I-35W) → I-35 → TX-130 → (I-10) → I-35
566 miles / 8 h 42 m

Using US-281:   I-35 → I-44 → US-281 → I-35
561 miles / 8 h 52 m

Straight through Fort Worth:   I-35 → (I-35W) → I-35
550 miles / 8 h 55 m

Using TX-16:   I-35 → I-44 → (US-281) → TX-16 → I-10 → (I-410) → I-35
580 miles / 8 h 57 m

The locals' secret:   I-35 → FM-51 → (I-20) → US-281 → I-35
552 miles / 9 h 5 m

So, as you can see, TX-16óeven for long-distance routesómight be worth considering as another alternate route:  19 miles longer, but only 5 minutes longer, with much lower traffic counts.
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Bobby5280

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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #70 on: May 14, 2021, 03:39:16 PM »

Quote from: webny99
That's what I was thinking as well. US 281 sounds like it would make a reasonable bypass of Austin, but too much two-lane highway remaining to be a good bypass of Dallas-Fort Worth. For a long-distance trip, I can't imagine it would be better than whatever traffic issues may arise in DFW outside of peak times.

I think I mentioned it earlier, but I've known quite a few military people who use US-281 as an alternative to I-35 for trips from Fort Sill down to Fort Hood or even the bases in the San Antonio area. Given the original "national defense" dual purpose of the Interstate highway system, one could try arguing US-281 should be upgraded some to improve transportation between Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Hood, Sheppard AFB and Fort Sill. Not everything moves between these posts via air or rail.

I personally can handle DFW traffic, so I would use US-287 and I-35 for road trips down to Austin or San Antonio. There are far more restaurants, convenience stores and other services along the US-287/I-35 combo than US-281. If the US-281 corridor between Wichita Falls and San Antonio was a minimum of 4-lane divided expressway and more of it Interstate quality I'd consider taking that.

Quote from: J N Winkler
On my way south (from Wichita), I took I-44 out of Oklahoma City, then US 81 to Bowie, Texas, followed by SH 59 to pick up US 281 at Jacksboro.  The SH 59 leg was a mistake--70 limit but lots of curves with reduced advisory speeds.  If I had to do it again, I'd probably cross the Red River via SH 79 and pick up SH 148 at Petrolia.  It is then apparently a mostly straight shot to Jacksboro.

If you go that way you might want to try Bill's Catfish restaurant just SW of Waurika. It's along OK-79 about 2.5 miles SW of the split with US-70 and a little over a mile from the Red River. That place and the Rocking H steak house in Temple are the most popular restaurants in that area. People from Lawton and Duncan hit those places all the time. I'm sure Bill's probably attracts a few people up from Wichita Falls too.
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Re: US 281 in San Antonio
« Reply #71 on: May 15, 2021, 03:47:39 PM »

Quote from: webny99
That's what I was thinking as well. US 281 sounds like it would make a reasonable bypass of Austin, but too much two-lane highway remaining to be a good bypass of Dallas-Fort Worth. For a long-distance trip, I can't imagine it would be better than whatever traffic issues may arise in DFW outside of peak times.

I think I mentioned it earlier, but I've known quite a few military people who use US-281 as an alternative to I-35 for trips from Fort Sill down to Fort Hood or even the bases in the San Antonio area. Given the original "national defense" dual purpose of the Interstate highway system, one could try arguing US-281 should be upgraded some to improve transportation between Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Hood, Sheppard AFB and Fort Sill. Not everything moves between these posts via air or rail.

I personally can handle DFW traffic, so I would use US-287 and I-35 for road trips down to Austin or San Antonio. There are far more restaurants, convenience stores and other services along the US-287/I-35 combo than US-281. If the US-281 corridor between Wichita Falls and San Antonio was a minimum of 4-lane divided expressway and more of it Interstate quality I'd consider taking that.

Quote from: J N Winkler
On my way south (from Wichita), I took I-44 out of Oklahoma City, then US 81 to Bowie, Texas, followed by SH 59 to pick up US 281 at Jacksboro.  The SH 59 leg was a mistake--70 limit but lots of curves with reduced advisory speeds.  If I had to do it again, I'd probably cross the Red River via SH 79 and pick up SH 148 at Petrolia.  It is then apparently a mostly straight shot to Jacksboro.

If you go that way you might want to try Bill's Catfish restaurant just SW of Waurika. It's along OK-79 about 2.5 miles SW of the split with US-70 and a little over a mile from the Red River. That place and the Rocking H steak house in Temple are the most popular restaurants in that area. People from Lawton and Duncan hit those places all the time. I'm sure Bill's probably attracts a few people up from Wichita Falls too.

Bill's pulls from as far away as OKC. I have friends who drive down there regularly.
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When you come to a fork in the road... TAKE IT.

                                                               -Yogi Berra

 


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