U.S. Route 281 in Texas

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This article is about the section of U.S. Route 281 in Texas. For the entire route, see U.S. Route 281.
See also: Interstate 69C

US Highway 281 marker

US Highway 281
Route information
Maintained by TxDOT
Length: 580.608 mi[1] (934.398 km)
Existed: 1935 – present
Major junctions
South end: Fed. 97 at the U.S.-Mexico border

Bus. US 77 / SH 48 at Brownsville, TX

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 (US 281) is a United States Numbered Highway that runs from the Mexican border in the Rio Grande Valley to the Canadian border near Dunseith, North Dakota. In the state of Texas, the highway is a major south–north corridor, connecting Brownsville to the Oklahoma state line at the Red River in Burkburnett. Several segments of U.S. 281 are concurrent with Interstate routes, including I-69C in the Rio Grande Valley, I-37 in San Antonio, and I-44 north of Wichita Falls.

Route description[edit]

US 281 has two signed segments near its southern terminus in the Rio Grande Valley, both of which are signed west–east. The eastern segment, considered mainline US 281 by TxDOT, begins in Brownsville at an intersection with Business US 77 and SH 48 about 2 miles (3.2 km) from the Mexico border, and travels west through several communities along the border to Pharr.[1][2] The western segment, officially listed as a spur connection by TxDOT and often labeled on maps as US 281 Spur, begins just north of the McAllen–Hidalgo–Reynosa International Bridge in Hidalgo and travels north along International Boulevard before turning east onto Coma Avenue and entering Pharr.[1][3] The two segments (along with Spur 600, which provides access to the Pharr–Reynosa International Bridge) meet at Cage Boulevard, where signage changes to south–north, and the highway turns to the north.[4] North of the interchange with I-2, US 281 is concurrent with I-69C to that route's northern terminus (as of December 2015) in Edinburg.[5] US 281 travels through small towns and sparsely-populated areas, alternating between a divided highway and a main street, until joining I-37 north of Three Rivers. The two routes split south of Pleasanton and separately travel northward to San Antonio.

In San Antonio, US 281 overlaps I-410 on the south side of the city until another 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 the McAllister Freeway, intersecting I-410 again at a stack interchange in Uptown San Antonio, with access to the San Antonio International Airport. The freeway ends at Loop 1604, and US 281 continues through Bexar County as a superstreet. In Central Texas, it serves as the main street of Blanco before beginning a concurrency with US 290 south of Johnson City. As US 290 continues toward Austin, US 281 and US 290 provide a scenic and less congested alternative to I-35 between San Antonio and Austin. The two routes split in the city, with US 281 continuing toward Marble Falls, Burnet, and Lampasas.

North of Stephenville, US 281 crosses I-20 and continues through North Central Texas, passing through Mineral Wells and Jacksboro. Upon reaching Wichita Falls, US 281 becomes a freeway. It begins a concurrency with I-44 at that route's western terminus, and the two routes travel north, crossing the Red River into Oklahoma near Burkburnett.


A project to construct a stack interchange at I-410 (the "San Antonio Web"[6]) was completed June 9, 2008;[7] 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[8] 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.


The highway is currently being expanded from a two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway from River Crossing to the Comal-Blanco county line at a cost of $30.5 million.[9] The section of US 281 from I-2/US 83 in Pharr to George West is steadily being upgraded to an interstate-grade freeway as part of the Interstate 69 expansion, and will be signed as Interstate 69C.

Major intersections[edit]

US Highways in Texas use green reflective labels about every 2 miles on sign posts which also include route markers. They are located immediately below route markers. Numbers increase as one goes south (for north–south routes) or east (for east–west routes). These markers are part of the Texas Reference Marker (TRM) System, introduced in 1990. The Texas Department of Transportation Statewide Planning Map includes an optional overlay with reference markers.

County Location mi km Destinations Notes
Cameron Brownsville
Bus. US 77 (Central Boulevard) / SH 48 east (Boca Chica Boulevard) – Port Brownsville, Port Isabel, Harlingen
Southern terminus
832 1,339 FM 802 east (Ruben M. Torres Boulevard)
FM 3248 east (Alton Gloor Boulevard)
FM 1421 north
829 1,334 FM 1732 east – Olmito
Ranchito 828 1,333 FM 1577 north (Esparza-Domanski Highway)
La Paloma 825 1,328 FM 732 north – San Benito
Los Indios 823 1,324 FM 2520 north – San Benito
820 1,320 FM 509 – Free Trade International Bridge
819 1,318 FM 1479 north (Fred Elizondo Highway) – Rangerville, Harlingen
Bluetown 815 1,312 FM 506 north – La Feria
Santa Maria 813 1,308 FM 2556 north (Jo-Ed Road)
Hidalgo 809 1,302 FM 491 north – Mercedes
ProgresoProgreso Lakes line FM 1015 – International Bridge
Progreso Bus. FM 1015 north
803.5 1,293.1 FM 88 north (Ruben Hinojosa Highway) – Weslaco
Run 799 1,286 FM 493 – Mexico, Donna, Donna Rio Bravo International Bridge
794 1,278 FM 907 north – Alamo
San Juan 792.5 1,275.4 FM 2557 north – San Juan
US 281 Spur west (West Military Highway) / Spur 600 south – Hidalgo, Pharr / Reynosa International Bridge
FM 3072

Bus. US 83 – McAllen, Harlingen
783 1,260 I-2 / US 83 – McAllen, Harlingen
782.7 1,259.6 SH 495 (Ferguson Avenue)
I-2 / US 83 – McAllen, Harlingen South end of I-69C overlap; southbound exit and northbound entrance; I-2 exit 146; I-69C exits 0A-B
see I-69C
Edinburg 765 1,231 FM 490 Interchange; north end of I-69C overlap
Linn 758 1,220 SH 186 / FM 1017 Interchange
Brooks Rachal FM 755 west – La Gloria, Rio Grande City

Bus. US 281 north – Encino

Bus. US 281 south – Encino
FM 3066 interchange; south end of freeway
Bus. US 281 north
SH 285 – Hebbronville, Riviera

Bus. US 281 south
FM 1418 interchange; north end of freeway
Jim Wells FM 1538 west
Premont FM 716 west
SH 141 / FM 2295 – Kingsville, Benavides Interchange
FM 735 west
Ben Bolt FM 2508 – Ben Bolt Interchange
FM 625 west

Bus. US 281 north / FM 1930 – Alice
FM 1554
SH 44 / SH 359 – Alice, San Diego Interchange

Bus. US 281 south – Alice
FM 2044 east – Alfred
Midway FM 624 – Orange Grove, Cotulla Interchange
Live Oak FM 3162 east – Lagarto
George West US 59 – Freer, Laredo, Beeville, Houston South end of Bus. US 59 overlap

Bus. US 59 north (Houston Street) to I-37 – truck route to US 59 north
North end of Bus. US 59 overlap
FM 889 west
FM 1042 west – Simmons City
Three Rivers SH 72 west (Thornton Street) – Choke Canyon State Park, Calliham, Tilden, Federal Prison South end of SH 72 overlap
SH 72 east (King David Drive) – Kenedy North end of SH 72 overlap
I-37 south – Corpus Christi South end of I-37 overlap; US 281 south follows exit 72
see I-37
Atascosa I-37 north – San Antonio North end of I-37 overlap; northbound exit and southbound entrance; US 281 north follows exit 103
Spur 199 east (Leal Road) / Jim Brite Road
Pleasanton FM 1334 east – Coughran
SH 97 west – Jourdanton South end of SH 97 overlap
SH 97 east to I-37 – Floresville North end of SH 97 overlap
Spur 242 to SH 97 – Poteet, Coastal Bend College
FM 3006 east to I-37
Leming FM 1470 south – Poteet
Las Gallinas FM 536 east – Floresville
Bexar Loop 1604 (Anderson Loop) – Elmendorf, Somerset Interchange
FM 2537 west
San Antonio FM 1937 south – Losoya
I-410 west / SH 130 south / Spur 536 north (Roosevelt Avenue) – Stinson Airport
Espada Road - San Antonio Missions National Historical Park interchange
I-410 west / SH 130 south South end of I-410 / SH 130 overlap; southbound exit and northbound entrance; US 281 south follows exit 44
Spur 122 (South Presa Street) / Southton Road I-410 exit 42
I-37 south / I-410 north / SH 130 north to US 181 south / SH 130 Toll – Corpus Christi, Rio Grande Valley, Floresville, Austin, Waco North end of I-410 / SH 130 overlap; south end of I-37 overlap; US 281 north follows exit 41; US 281 south follows exit 133
see I-37
I-35 – Laredo, Austin North end of I-37 overlap; I-37 exit 142; I-35 exit 158
Josephine Street / Grayson Street Southbound exit and northbound entrance
St. Mary's Street / Mulberry Avenue / Stadium Drive
Hildebrand Avenue
Basse Road Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Jones-Maltsberger Road
Sunset Road Southbound exit only
Airport Boulevard Northbound exit and southbound entrance
I-410 I-410 exit 21A
San Antonio International Airport Terminals
Jones-Maltsberger Road / Isom Road
San Pedro Avenue Southbound exit and northbound entrance; former Spur 537
Nakoma Drive no direct southbound exit (signed at Wurzbach Parkway)
Wurzbach Parkway (PA 1502) signed with Nakoma Drive southbound; additional signage southbound for Sandau Road and Rhapsody Drive
Bitters Road
Oak Shadows Drive / Winding Way Drive no direct southbound exit (signed at Brook Hollow Boulevard)
Brook Hollow Boulevard
Thousand Oaks Drive / Mecca Drive no direct southbound exit (signed at Donella Drive)
Donella Drive
524 843 Loop 1604 / Frontage Road
Sonterra Boulevard interchange; north end of freeway; no direct southbound exit (signed at Loop 1604), access to North Central Baptist Hospital and Methodist Stone Oak Hospital
Comal Bulverde FM 1863 – Bulverde Interchange
SH 46 – Boerne, New Braunfels Interchange
Spring Branch FM 311 east
FM 306 east – Canyon Lake North
Blanco RM 473 west – Kendalia South end of RM 473 overlap
Twin Sisters RM 473 east North end of RM 473 overlap
RM 32 east – San Marcos, Canyon Dam
Loop 163 north to RM 165 – Wimberley
Blanco PR 23 – Blanco State Park interchange
Loop 163 south / RM 1623 west (4th Street) to RM 165 – Stonewall, Henly, Wimberley
480 770 US 290 east – Austin South end of US 290 overlap
Johnson City RM 2766 east – Pedernales Falls State Park
US 290 west – Fredericksburg, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park North end of US 290 overlap
Spur 356 south – Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
RM 1323 west – Sandy
Round Mountain RM 962 east – Cypress Mill South end of RM 962 overlap
RM 962 west – Llano North end of RM 962 overlap
Burnet SH 71 – Llano, Austin Interchange
RM 2147 east South end of RM 2147 overlap
Marble Falls RM 2147 west – Wirtz Dam, Horseshoe Bay, Lake LBJ North end of RM 2147 overlap
451 726 RM 1431 – Granite Shoals, Kingsland, Lago Vista, Cedar Park
RM 1855 west – Fairland
Demarco PR 4 west – Longhorn Cavern State Park, Inks Lake State Park, Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery
Burnet 438 705 SH 29 – Buchanan Dam, Llano, Georgetown
RM 963 east – Watson, Oakalla
RM 2340 east – Lake Victor
Lampasas Lampasas
US 281 Truck north (E.E. Ohnmeiss Drive) to US 190 east – Copperas Cove, Killeen

US 183 south / US 190 east / US 281 Truck south – Belton, Austin
South end of US 183 / US 190 overlap
414 666 Loop 257 east (4th Street) – Lampasas Downtown Historic District
FM 580 west (North Avenue) – Colorado Bend State Park South end of FM 580 overlap
FM 580 east (East Avenue J) North end of FM 580 overlap
US 183 north / US 190 west – Goldthwaite, Brownwood, San Saba, Lometa North end of US 183 / US 190 overlap
FM 1690 north
FM 581 west – Lometa South end of FM 581 overlap
Adamsville FM 581 east North end of FM 581 overlap
No major junctions
Hamilton Evant US 84 – Gatesville, Goldthwaite Interchange
FM 221 west – Shive
Hamilton 366 589 SH 22 east / SH 36 (Main Street) – Comanche, Gatesville, Meridian
FM 2905 east
Olin FM 219 – Dublin, Cranfills Gap
FM 1744 south – Carlton
FM 1602 south – Fairy, Jonesboro
Hico 340 550 SH 6 south (2nd Street) to SH 220 – Meridian, Downtown Historic District South end of SH 6 overlap
Erath SH 6 north – Dublin, Eastland North end of SH 6 overlap
338 544 FM 1824 east – Duffau
332 534 FM 913 east – Selden
SH 108 north – Stephenville
Stephenville US 67 – Dublin, Glen Rose
US 377 – Dublin, Granbury
FM 205 east
325 523
Bus. US 377 – Stephenville, Fort Worth
FM 8 west – Tarleton Agricultural Center
FM 3025 west
Morgan Mill FM 1188 / FM 1189 north – Lipan
FM 2803 north – Patillo
Palo Pinto 303 488 FM 4 – Santo, Lipan
296 476 I-20 – Abilene, Fort Worth I-20 exit 386
FM 2201 west – Santo
FM 129 west – Brazos
FM 1195 east – Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Municipal Airport
FM 2256 south
Mineral Wells US 180 east (South 1st Street)
US 180 west (Hubbard Street)
FM 3027 east (Northeast 23rd Street) South end of FM 3027 overlap
FM 3027 west – Union Hill North end of FM 3027 overlap
FM 1821 east – Weatherford, Lake Mineral Wells State Park
FM 2270 west
Peadenville SH 254 west / FM 1885 east – Graford, Possum Kingdom Lake, Weatherford
FM 52 – Oran, Whitt
Jack Perrin FM 2210 – Gibtown
SH 199 east – Fort Worth south end of SH 199 overlap
FM 3324 south
US 380 east / SH 114 east – Runaway Bay, Bridgeport, Dallas South end of US 380 / SH 114 overlap
Jacksboro PR 61 – Fort Richardson State Park
US 380 west / SH 59 north (Belknap Street) North end of US 380 / SH 199 overlap
FM 3344 north (Post Oak Road)
SH 148 north – Henrietta
SH 114 west – Olney North end of SH 114 overlap
FM 1191 south – Jermyn
FM 2190 east – Squaw Mountain
Loop 187 north – Antelope
Loop 187 south – Antelope
Archer SH 16 south – Graham
FM 2581 north
Windthorst SH 25 north / FM 174 east – Archer City, Bowie
Scotland FM 172 – Bluegrove
FM 1954 – Holliday, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Arrowhead State Park
Wichita Wichita Falls Loop 473 / Rathgeber Road interchange; south end of freeway
FM 369 west (Southwest Parkway) / SH 79 south – Archer City South end of SH 79 overlap; no direct southbound entrance
Hatton Road
Midwestern Parkway - Midwestern State University
US 82 east / US 287 south / SH 79 north – Texarkana, Fort Worth North end of SH 79 overlap; south end of US 82 / US 287 overlap
Loop 473 (Old Jacksboro Highway) / Spur 477 / Galveston Street
US 82 west / US 277 south – Lubbock, Abilene North end of US 82 overlap; south end of US 277 overlap
Broad Street - Business District northbound exit and southbound entrance
6th Street - MPEC no direct southbound exit
overlap; see I-44
I‑44 east / US-277 north / US-281 north – Lawton Oklahoma state line (bridge over the Red River)
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c Transportation Planning and Programming Division (n.d.). "U.S. Highway No. 281". Highway Designation Files. Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ Transportation Planning and Programming Division (2014). Texas County Map Book (PDF) (Map) (2014 ed.). 1:120,000. Texas Department of Transportation. p. 412. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  3. ^ Transportation Planning and Programming Division (2014). Texas County Map Book (PDF) (Map) (2014 ed.). 1:120,000. Texas Department of Transportation. p. 352. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  4. ^ Transportation Planning and Programming Division (2014). Texas County Map Book (PDF) (Map) (2014 ed.). 1:120,000. Texas Department of Transportation. p. 382. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  5. ^ Transportation Planning and Programming Division (n.d.). "Interstate Highway No. 69-C". Highway Designation Files. Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 30, 2015. 
  6. ^ Driscoll, Patrick (2006-01-16). "Now there's a name for it". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved June 20, 2008. 
  7. ^ Driscoll, Patrick (2008-06-10). "U.S. 281/Loop 410 interchange ramps are complete". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved June 20, 2008. 
  8. ^ Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe
  9. ^ "US 281 - Spring Branch". TxDOT. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 

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