$60M loan puts SH 45SW expansion into drive

Toll lanes at SH 45SW at MoPac.
Toll lanes at SH 45SW at MoPac.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — People who live in southwest Travis County and northwest Hays County might finally see some traffic relief after years of discussion on how to expand and extend State Highway 45.

Last week, the Texas Transportation Commission gave preliminary approval on the final $60 million loan needed to complete the portion of State Highway 45 Southwest (SH 45SW). The money will be paid to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), and added to the previous grant of $28.9 million from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) to connect FM 1626 in Hays County to Loop 1 in Southwest Austin.

In a statement, Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said this means the county is a major step closer to alleviating traffic congestion in some of the fastest growing areas of Texas. In the past 20 years, population growth in the area has increased by more than 200 percent.

Rendering of SH 45 SW toll lanes. ( Courtesy: SH45SW)
Map of SH 45 SW toll lanes. (
Courtesy: SH45SW)

“This should keep us on track to start construction this summer,” said Jones. “When the road is finished, traffic will have access to Loop 1, which was designed to handle large amounts of traffic, and will have a path that avoids congested, surface roads through neighborhoods.”

Homeowners in Shady Hollow along Brodie Lane are ready to see some relief. It is one of only a few routes drivers can take to commute into Austin from Hays County.

“This is just the best news we could get for Christmas,” said Betina Foreman who lives in Shady Hollow. “I am happy beyond belief.”

The new section of SH 45 will be a toll road to help pay back the $60 million loan.

Not everyone is happy.

Some say it will make traffic on Mopac worse for everyone, and there are environmental concerns.

The Save Our Springs Alliance has been against it from the get-go. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center questions the impact of 30,000 drivers passing by each day.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley said the 4-lane road will be one of the most environmentally sound and context-sensitive ones in Central Texas

“The environmental precautions being taken are second to none, including safeguards to filter runoff so that it is cleaner than the water that naturally runs off into the greenbelt area that surrounds the roadway. There will also be a shared-use pedestrian and bike path way along the approximately 3.6 miles of four-lane divided toll-way,” said Conley.

Over the past year, environmental studies have been done and were available for review by the public.

 

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