CTRMA looks to secure funding for express lanes on US 183

The project looks to add two express lanes in either direction on the highway between SH 45 and MoPac (183 Mobility photo)
The project looks to add two express lanes in either direction on the highway between SH 45 and MoPac (183 Mobility Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — At this point it may feel like there’s no end in sight when it comes to construction. Having passed the environmental studies, the 183 North Mobility Project would be the next major road project to break ground once funding is available.

The project not only adds two express lanes on US 183 from State Highway 45 to the MoPac Expressway ramp, but also adds another non-tolled lane along the stretch, turning US 183 from three lanes to four lanes.

US 183 southbound near Oak Knoll Drive is an area that tends to bottleneck during rush hour traffic. The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority also wants to look at extending the merging lane onto the main lanes of traffic to help with the traffic flow.

CTRMA says the total cost for the entire project equals around $480 million. Austin resident Jim Burkey says adding tolls is not the best solution. “I think the construction delays far outweigh the advantages of those lanes the time the pain and suffering of it, the cost and we’re being taxed again on something we’ve already paid for.”

Director of Engineering at the CTRMA, Justin Word, says that in order to beat congestion. Tolls are our best option at this time.

“We’re able to take toll viable projects — that’s what this is now. We’ve looked at financing over a 40-year time horizon and we can pay that money back through tolls. So we can go now with a toll project,” Word says. “If we don’t use that tool, then we would wait on traditional gas tax funding through TxDOT and the MPO. That funding is not even identified right now as a priority. The need far exceeds the capacity to build. We don’t have the money to build anything on 183 North right now. So, that’s the choice if we go toll. We’ll get it on a more time certain basis.”

US 183 North planners hope to have funding secured by this summer and start construction by 2020.

Currently, the southern section of US 183 from US 290 to State Highway 71 in east Austin is already undergoing major construction. The 183 South Project will turn the highway into a tolled expressway with three lanes in each direction.

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