U.S. Route 281 in Texas

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US Highway 281 marker

US Highway 281
Route information
Maintained by TxDOT
Major junctions
South end:
Bus. US 77 / SH 48 in Brownsville

I‑2 / US 83 in Pharr
I‑69C from Pharr to Edinburg
I‑37 in Three Rivers
I‑10 / US 87 / US 90 in San Antonio
I‑35 in San Antonio
I‑20 north of Stephenville

I‑44 / US 82 / US 277 / US 287 in Wichita Falls
North end: I‑44 / US-277 / US-281 at Texas-Oklahoma state line in Burkburnett
Highway system

U.S. Route 281 in Texas is a major north-south highway in the U.S. state of Texas. U.S. 281 runs from Brownsville, just north of the US-Mexico Border to the Texas-Oklahoma state line in Burkburnett north of Wichita Falls, concurrent with I-44.

Route description[edit]

US 281 begins at an intersection with Business US 77 and SH 48 about 2 miles (3.2 km) from the Mexico border.[1] It travels along the border through the Rio Grande Valley, turning north at Pharr, travelling through many small towns, alternating as a divided highway and main street, until joining I-37. It splits with I-37 and travels through Pleasanton, travelling north to San Antonio. In San Antonio, US 281 overlaps I-410 on the south side of the city until the interchange with I-37. US 281 and I-37 then overlap north into Downtown San Antonio until I-37 ends at I-35. US 281 continues north from Downtown San Antonio as a freeway, intersecting I-410 again in Uptown San Antonio, with access to the San Antonio International Airport. A project to construct a stack interchange at I-410 (the "San Antonio Web"[2]) was completed June 9, 2008;[3] formerly there was no direct access between the two freeways and surface streets were required travel between the freeways. The reason for this initial lack of direct interchange was due to litigation filed in the late 1960s against the Texas Highway Department over the highway's original construction alignment through portions of Brackenridge Park and Olmos Park that were alleged to be in violation of several Federal laws, ultimately including NEPA. As a result of the Supreme Court decision[4] in a more advanced and very similar case involving the proposed construction of I-40 through Overton Park in Memphis, Tennessee which upheld and affirmed the plaintiffs in that circumstance and precluded that highway's construction through the parkland with Federal funding, the Texas Highway Department chose instead to construct the McAlister Freeway entirely with State funding using a modified design that would increase curvature but limit encroachment into and noise impact on the Sunken Gardens area within Brackenridge Park. Funding of various highway projects from around Texas was re-allocated to the McAlister Freeway project, which was initially completed with only the indirect interchange via existing surface streets to Loop 410 since it required no Federal funding or approval and the Loop 410 overpass of that location where the McAlister Freeway main lanes would pass beneath had already been completed many years earlier. North of San Antonio, US 281 is not a freeway and forms the Main Street of Blanco. It overlaps US 290 south of Johnson City. US 290 continues toward Austin, so US 281 and US 290 between San Antonio and Austin are available as a scenic and less congested alternate to I-35.

North of San Antonio, US 281 continues through central and north-central Texas, passing through many towns, including Stephenville, Mineral Wells and Jacksboro before reaching Wichita Falls, where the highway begins a concurrency with I-44 north across the Red River into Oklahoma.

Freeway portions[edit]

U.S. Route 281 is a freeway three different times over its course in Texas, not counting overlaps with interstates. The first freeway portion is Cage Boulevard in the McAllen area that runs from I-2/US 83 north to Business US 281. This freeway is designated as I-69C. The second time Hwy 281 becomes a freeway is in San Antonio. The freeway is known as the McAllister Freeway from its beginniing at the end of I-37 at an interchange with I-35. Just north of I-410, the freeway changes names to San Pedro Avenue, which used to be a surface street. The freeway ends just north of Loop 1604 at Sonterra Boulevard. From here, US 281 becomes a "super street." The highway has two interchanges in Bulverde. The third freeway runs on the east side of Wichita Falls. The highway then begins an overlap with US 287 that runs to I-44. The highway crosses the Red River into Oklahoma with I-44 and US 277.

Junction list[edit]

County Location Destinations Notes
Cameron Brownsville
Bus. US 77 / SH 48 east – Port Isabel
FM 802 east (Ruben M. Torres Boulevard)
FM 1732 east – Olmito
FM 509 north – Harlingen
FM 506 north – La Feria, Santa Rosa
Hidalgo FM 491 north – Mercedes
FM 1015 – Weslaco
FM 493 north
Spur 281 west – Pharr Interchange
Bus. US 83
South end of freeway and I-69C overlap
I‑2 / US 83 (Expressway 83) – McAllen, Harlingen Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Ferguson Avenue
Sioux Road Southbound exit and northbound entrance
FM 3461 west (Earling Street) / Nolona Loop

Bus. US 281 north – Edinburg
Trenton Road
Edinburg I Road, Canton Road
Freddy Gonzalez Road
SH 107 – McAllen, Mission, UTPA No northbound entrance
FM 2128 east No southbound entrance
Russell Road
FM 1925 – Elsa No northbound entrance

Bus. US 281 south – Edinburg
No southbound entrance
North end of freeway and I-69C overlap
FM 2812
El Cibolo Road Interchange
FM 490 – Hargill Interchange
SH 186 east / FM 1017 north – Raymondville, Hebbronville Interchange
Brooks FM 755 west

Bus. US 281 north – Encino

Bus. US 281 south – Encino
Bus. US 281 north – Falfurrias
SH 285 – Hebbronville, Riviera

Bus. US 281 south – Falfurrias
Jim Wells Premont FM 716 west
SH 141 east / FM 2295 west – Kingsville, Benavides Interchange

Bus. US 281 north – Alice
Alice SH 44 / SH 359 – Freer, Alice, Corpus Christi Interchange

Bus. US 281 south – Alice
Interchange; no northbound exit
FM 624 Interchange
Live Oak FM 3162 east – Lake Corpus Christi
George West US 59 – Freer, Victoria

Bus. US 59 north (Houston Street)
Three Rivers SH 72 west – Tilden South end of SH 72 overlap
SH 72 east – Pawnee North end of SH 72 overlap
I‑37 south – Corpus Christi South end of I-37 overlap
See I-37
Atascosa I‑37 north – San Antonio
Spur 199 east
Pleasanton SH 97 west – Jourdanton South end of SH 97 overlap
SH 97 east – Floresville North end of SH 97 overlap
Spur 242
FM 3006 north
Leming FM 1470 west – Poteet
FM 536 east
Bexar Loop 1604 (Anderson Loop) – Elmendorf, Somerset Interchange
FM 2537 north (Pleasanton Road)
San Antonio FM 1937 south
I‑410 west (Connally Loop) / Spur 536 north (Roosevelt Avenue) South end of I-410 overlap
Espada Road – San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Spur 122 (Presa Street) / Southton Road
I‑410 north (Connally Loop) / I‑37 south – Corpus Christi North end of I-410 overlap; south end of I-37 overlap
Loop 13 (Military Drive) – Brooks City-Base
Pecan Valley Drive
Hot Wells Boulevard
New Braunfels Avenue, Southcross Boulevard
Fair Avenue, Hackberry Street
I‑10 / US 87 / US 90 (Jose Lopez Freeway) – El Paso, San Angelo, Del Rio, Victoria, Houston
Florida Street, Carolina Street
Cesar Chavez Boulevard – Alamodome, Convention Center
Commerce Street – Downtown San Antonio, The Alamo, Riverwalk, Rivercenter Mall
Houston Street – The Alamo, Rivercenter Mall Southbound exit and northbound entrance
McCullough Avenue, Nolan Street Southbound exit and northbound entrance
I‑35 (Pan Am Expressway) – Laredo, Austin
North end of I-37
Josephine Street Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Saint Mary's Avenue, Mulberry Avenue – Alamo Stadium, Trinity University
Hildebrand Avenue – San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium, University of the Incarnate Word
Basse Road – Alamo Quarry Market Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Jones Maltsberger Road – Alamo Quarry Market
Sunset Road Southbound exit only
I‑410 (Connally Loop) – Castle Hills, Leon Valley
Airport Boulevard – San Antonio International Airport Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Terminal Drive – San Antonio International Airport
Jones Maltsberger Road, Isom Road
Spur 537 south (San Pedro Avenue) Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Nakoma Road, Sandau Drive, Rhapsody Drive Northbound, exit is signed as Nakoma; southbound, exit is signed as Nakoma/Sandau/Rhapsody
Wurzbach Parkway Interchange under construction
Bitters Road
Winding Way, Oak Shadows; Brook Hollow Blvd – Hill Country Village Northbound, Winding Way/Oak Shadows and Brook Hollow Blvd are separate exits; southbound, Brook Hollow Blvd/Winding Way/Oak Shadows is a single exit
Mecca Drive, Thousand Oaks Drive – Hill Country Village
Donella Drive – Hollywood Park Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Loop 1604 (Anderson Loop) – UTSA, Fiesta Texas, SeaWorld Direct-access interchange northbound exit and southbound entrance
Sonterra Boulevard
North end of freeway
Comal Bulverde FM 1863 (Bulverde Road) Interchange
SH 46 – Boerne, New Braunfels Interchange
FM 311 east – Canyon Lake
FM 306 east
Blanco RM 473 west – Kendalia South end of RM 473 overlap
RM 473 east North end of FM 473 overlap
RM 32 east – San Marcos
Loop 163 north
Blanco PR 23
RM 1623 west / Loop 163 south – Stonewall
US 290 east – Austin South end of US 290 overlap
Johnson City RM 2766 east
US 290 west – Fredericksburg North end of US 290 overlap
Spur 356 south
RM 1323 west
Round Mountain RM 962
Burnet SH 71 – Llano, Austin Interchange
RM 2147 east South end of RM 2147 overlap
Marble Falls RM 2147 west – Horseshoe Bay North end of RM 2147 overlap
RM 1431 – Granite Shoals, Lago Vista
RM 1855 west
PR 4 west Longhorn Caverns State Park, Inks Dam
Burnet SH 29 – Llano, Georgetown
FM 963 north
RM 2340 east – Lake Victor
Lampasas Lampasas US 183 south / US 190 east – Austin, Belton South end of US 183/190 overlap
Spur 257 east
FM 580 west South end of FM 580 overlap
FM 580 east North end of FM 580 overlap
US 183 north / US 190 west – Lometa, San Saba North end of US 183/190 overlap
FM 1690 north
FM 581 west South end of FM 581 overlap
FM 581 east North end of FM 581 overlap
Coryell No major junctions in Coryell County
Hamilton Evant US 84 – Goldthwaite, Gatesville Interchange
FM 221 west – Pottsville
Hamilton SH 36 / SH 22 east – Comanche, Gatesville, Cranfills Gap
FM 2905 north
FM 219 – Dublin, Cranfills Gap
FM 1744 south
FM 1602 south
Hico SH 6 south – Iredell South end of SH 6 overlap
Erath SH 6 north – Dublin North end of SH 6 overlap
FM 1824 east
FM 913 north – Selden
Stephenville SH 108 north – Stephenville, Graham
US 67 – Dublin, Glen Rose
US 377 – Dublin, Granbury
FM 205 east

Bus. US 377
FM 8 south
FM 3025 south
Morgan Mill FM 1188 / FM 1189 north / FM 1715 west – Bluff Dale
FM 2803 west
Palo Pinto FM 4 – Palo Pinto, Lipan
I‑20 – Abilene, Fort Worth
FM 2201 west – Santo
FM 129 west – Brazos
FM 2256 north
FM 1195 east
Mineral Wells FM 2256 south
US 180 – Palo Pinto, Weatherford
FM 3027 north
FM 1821 south
SH 254 west / FM 1885 east – Graford
FM 52 – Oran, Whitt
Jack Perrin FM 2210
SH 199 south – Azle, Fort Worth
FM 3324 south
US 380 east / SH 114 east – Bridgeport, Decatur, Rhome South end of US 380/SH 114 overlap
PR 61 south – Fort Richardson
Jacksboro US 380 west / SH 59 north – Bryson, Newport North end of US 380 overlap
SH 148 north – Henrietta
SH 114 west – Jermyn North end of SH 114 overlap
FM 1191 south – Jermyn
FM 2190 east
Loop 187 north – Antelope
Loop 187 south – Antelope
Archer SH 16 south – Graham
FM 2581 north
Windthorst SH 25 west / FM 174 east – Archer City, Buffalo Springs
Scotland FM 172
FM 1954
South end of freeway
Wichita Wichita Falls Loop 473 north (Old Jacksboro Highway)
SH 79 south / FM 369 west (Southwest Parkway) – Archer City South end of SH 79 overlap
Hatton Road
Midwestern Parkway
US 82 east / US 287 south / SH 79 north – Henrietta, Fort Worth, Decatur, Petrolia North end of SH 79 overlap; south end of US 82/287 overlap
Loop 473 (Old Jacksboro Highway)
Galveston Street Northbound exit and southbound entrance; northbound exit for US 82/277 (Kell Boulevard)
US 82 west / US 277 south – Lubbock, Abilene North end of US 82 overlap; south end of US 277 overlap
14th-8th Street – Downtown Wichita Falls
Southwest end of I‑44

Bus. US 277 south
Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Scotland Park Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Texas Travel Info Center

Bus. US 287
Maurine Street
US 287 north – Amarillo North end of US 287 overlap
Spur 325 east – Sheppard AFB
FM 890Wichita Falls Municipal Airport
City Loop Street Northbound exit and entrance
Frontage Road Southbound exit only
Access Road Northbound exit and southbound entrance
FM 3492 (Missile Road) – Sheppard AFB
Bacon Switch Road
East Road
Burkburnett FM 3429 (Daniels Road)
SH 240 – Burkburnett
Spur 383 (Glendale Street)
Loop 267 (East Third Street) to SH 240 west – Burkburnett
Crosses Red River into Oklahoma


  1. ^ Texas Department of Transportation (2012) (PDF). Texas County Map Book (Map). 1:120,000. Cartography by Transportation Planning and Programming Division (2012 ed.). p. 477. http://www.dot.state.tx.us/apps-cg/grid_search/_includes/countymapbook2006/Pages/477.pdf. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  2. ^ Driscoll, Patrick (2006-01-16). "Now there's a name for it". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  3. ^ Driscoll, Patrick (2008-06-10). "U.S. 281/Loop 410 interchange ramps are complete". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  4. ^ Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe
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