TxDOT takes more steps to help backups out of Round Rock

TxDOT plans to reverse ramps to help with backups (Dugan/KXAN)
TxDOT plans to reverse ramps to help with backups for its North 16 Project (Dugan/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation says it is taking steps to help travel on the Interstate 35 corridor with the North 16 Project.

The project would add an express lane in each direction between Ranch to Market 1431 in Round Rock to Highway 183. The work would also include a series of stand-alone projects along I-35 where traffic tends to back up.

“The closer you get to Round Rock the worse the traffic is,” says Keith Lindell who’s been driving on I-35 from Georgetown for the past 16 years, “It’s just crazy. The closer you get to here, the worse it gets.”

TxDOT has plans to help with the backups. They will reverse entrance and exit ramps on the southbound I-35 frontage road. That means the on ramps will become off ramps, and vice versa. Backups happen on the southbound frontage road as drivers traveling off of I-35 quickly merge with on coming traffic trying to merge onto I-35, this forces all vehicles into the same lane and creates weaving.

Merging lanes for entrance and exit ramps will also be lengthened so that drivers merging on I-35 have more time to match speeds on the main lanes. Construction is set to begin this fall with work being completed by 2018. In the meantime, Keith says he has some creative ways in mind to get around backup once construction starts, “It’ll be horrible, I’ll get a helicopter,” he says.

TxDOT completed a  ramp reversal last year from FM 3406 to US 79. The project has helped congestion on northbound I-35. Crews currently are working to remove merging points on I-35 northbound between Hester’s Crossing and FM 620.

Crews will reverse ramps on northbound I-35 from US 79 to S-H 45 North. They will also lengthen merging lanes along both sides of the frontage roads. A left-turn lane is also under construction on westbound US 79. Construction started this summer and is expected to be complete in 2019 with the project costing around $9.2 million.

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