East Austin continues to see a wide range of developments, particularly in the area of the airport, creating a need to address Austin’s already troubling traffic problems. As of earlier this month, a huge project to alleviate some of those traffic issues is now underway as the 183 South Project broke ground.
The project is a partnership between Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA). The new tolled expressway will stretch along eight miles of 183 from SH 290 and SH 71, featuring three lanes in each direction. The new route will be non-stop and signal free, a thoroughfare that the creators are describing as a “key north-south alternative to IH35.” The new construction will also feature a high tech monitoring system that will improve traffic management and emergency response.
This does not mean, however, that the area that was once untolled will be charging drivers. In fact, the project also includes plans to improve upon the general purpose stretch of highway which includes adding $25 million in pedestrian and bicyclist facilities. These new sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and shared use paths will connect to the regional trail system. There will also be improvements to the landscape and aesthetics around the area. The goal of this part of the project is to “create a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation corridor that is appropriate for its setting and speaks to the needs and values of the surrounding community.”
This heavily used section will help alleviate traffic for areas like Mueller, downtown, East Riverside, and the airport, as well as make the new projects being built in the area more accessible. One noticeable difference that the project will have in these neighborhoods is that a few of the crossover streets and signals will be removed and replaced with non-stop U-Turn diversions for drivers to access 183. These crossover streets include 51st Street, Technicenter Drive, Bolm Road, Vargas Road, and Thompson Lane.
Construction will last approximately four years and take place in phases. The first phase, the area between 290/290 Toll and Bolm Road, expected to be finished by 2019. The second phase between Technicenter Drive and 290 should open approximately one year later.