New Highway 71 lanes open Thursday afternoon

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Drivers traveling from Southeast Austin, Del Valle and Bastrop are going to see their drive times change as TxDOT prepares to open new lanes on Highway 71 Thursday.

The westbound lanes are designed to alleviate some of the traffic backups caused by the traffic signal at Riverside Drive.

The thirty month long project cost $35 million and is part of the plan to eliminate traffic signals between Interstate 35 and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The new lanes bypass the intersection of Highway 71 and Riverside Drive.

Last month, the eastbound lanes opened alleviating the stress drivers face in that direction.

Crews plan to have the new westbound lanes open by the afternoon rush hour.

“We have to make sure everything is prepared, make sure all of the signs are down to direct traffic to the actual new main lanes and then we’ll begin working on the westbound frontage road. So we aren’t done with the project but the good news is we are opening up three additional lanes of traffic,” said Kelli Reyna, TXDot Spokeswoman.

The frontage road in each direction will have construction crews working on it through the summer. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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