U.S. 281 being expanded to 4 lanes past old Military

BROWNSVILLE — The Texas Department of Transportation continues to work on the expansion of Highway 281 past old Military Highway and Alton Gloor Boulevard.

TxDOT is transforming Highway 281 into a four lane roadway. It is currently a two lane road.

Formerly known as the Border Highway, U.S. Highway 281 is 1,872 miles long and stretches from Brownsville all the way to North Dakota’s border with Canada.

The Border Highway used to be a trail in the 1800s. For a while it was known as State Highway 4 and then State Highway 48.

In the 1930s right-of-way acquisitions were made to develop what is now U.S. Highway 281, TxDOT Public Information Officer Octavio Saenz said.

According to Saenz the reconstruction project is five miles long.

“Some of the objectives of the improvement include expanding the existing road from a two-lane road to a four-lane road with a continuous center turn lane, constructing left and right turn lanes at intersections, and construction of outside shoulders,” Saenz said.

TxDOT uses an average daily traffic measure to gauge traffic on Texas roads. Highway 281 has a daily traffic average of 5,782.

TxDOT held a public meeting last year at Veterans Memorial Early College High School about widening the road and received approval from the public.

The Military Highway 281 area has experienced its shares of accidents over the past several years, with multiple accidents ending in fatalities.

In 2008, a 3-year-old boy was killed when the car he was traveling in struck an 18-wheeler from behind while traveling toward Brownsville near River Bend Resort. Police said the tractor-trailer rig had stopped in the road and was getting ready to turn into the construction site when the car struck it. Police said driver “inattentiveness” contributed to the accident.

In 2012, an accident near Veterans high school left one man dead after a sports utility vehicle rolled over.

And in 2013, a 74-year-old man died in a head-on collision less than a mile from Veterans. Authorities believe speed was a factor in the accident.

Saenz said TxDOT expects the reconstruction project to be completed May 17.