Work on roundabout at I-35 and 51st Street starts this fall

I-35 and 51st street roundabout rendering. (TxDOT)
I-35 and 51st street roundabout rendering. (TxDOT)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rachel Bond works at the Austin Spy Shop located along the frontage road of Interstate 35 near 51st Street; she says you don’t have to go undercover to know the traffic around the shop is a mess.

“You can see it, it’s just a bottleneck. It’s pretty much a nightmare. I’d say it’s gotten worse over the year-and-a-half that I’ve been commuting out here,” says Bond.

The current intersection is a tangled web of lights and cars. A blind curve and lack of signs gives drivers little to no warning that they’re coming to a stop. If they are at a stop, some drivers have difficulty determining which lane they need to be in to merge back onto the interstate or to turn onto 51st Street.

I-35 southbound frontage at 51st Street. (KXAN Photo/Amanda Dugan)
I-35 southbound frontage at 51st Street. (KXAN Photo/Amanda Dugan)

“The way people come flying around that corner, you can tell they have no idea they’re coming to a halt real quick.” says Bond. “Because if there’s traffic, they’re not even making it far around that corner—boom— they’re stopped and they aren’t expecting it.”

Drivers in the area also lament that there isn’t a U-turn lane at the intersection along with poor ramp connections between 51st Street and Airport Boulevard.

This fall, the Texas Department of Transportation will start construction on a roundabout at the intersection to help relieve some of the congestion. A bypass lane will also be added, to allow through-traffic to skip the signal light. There will also be improvements to the bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

Bond thinks the roundabout will be safer and help drivers slow down.

The roundabout is a small part of a list of upgrades to the I-35 corridor in Austin. Construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed by the end of 2018.

On the other side of the intersection, work is still in progress to improve the northbound frontage.

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