St. John’s Avenue bridge reconstruction underway and other Northwest Austin transportation updates for July

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Ongoing Projects

1. I-35 projects

Work continues with crews having finished six columns for the bridge beams on the northwest corner of I-35 and US 183. Texas Department of Transportation crews in April reduced the US 183 northbound frontage road from three lanes to two between Hwy. 290 to south of US 183. Drivers must take a new, temporary entrance ramp from the I-35 northbound frontage road north of Hwy. 290 to the I-35 northbound main lanes.

Crews began demolishing the St. Johns Avenue bridge over the I-35 main lanes in late May and are scheduled to finish demolishing work throughout June. Reconstruction of the bridge is expected to last several months, according to TxDOT. Weather permitting, TxDOT officials expect the new bridge to open to traffic in late summer.

According to a TxDOT news release, all drivers on St. Johns Avenue must turn right onto the I-35 frontage roads and use the U-turns at US 183 or Hwy. 290 East to access St. Johns Avenue on the other side of I-35 throughout the reconstruction of the bridge. A temporary path across I-35 for bicyclists and pedestrians will be constructed.

Timeline: January 2018-mid-2021
Cost: $124 million
Funding sources: TxDOT

2. Safety improvements at I-35 and Braker Lane

The city of Austin began construction in mid-January on safety improvements that include adding a raised median on Braker west of I-35 to manage turn movements, extending the turn lane for vehicles turning left onto the northbound I-35 frontage road, and adding new sidewalks and high-visibility crosswalks. City officials expect construction to wrap before the end of June.

Timeline: January-June
Cost: $1.23 million
Funding sources: 2016 Mobility Bond

Upcoming Projects

3. I-35 at Parmer Lane

TxDOT will construct a diverging diamond interchange, in which vehicles cross over to the opposite side of the road to facilitate more efficient turning movements. TxDOT has awarded the contract for the project, and construction is expected to begin sometime this summer. The project also includes adding turn lanes at the intersection of Parmer Lane and North Lamar Boulevard.

Timeline: summer 2019-mid-2021
Cost: $32.5 million
Funding sources: TxDOT

4. Spicewood Springs Road low-water crossing improvements

A bridge on Spicewood Springs Road in Northwest Austin that, according to Travis County documents, floods after “relatively brief rainfall events” will likely begin reconstruction by summer 2020. Three reconstruction plans that differ in construction cost, timeline and added detours were open for public review and comment through early May.

A second community meeting to preview the preliminary design to be ultimately selected by the county is expected to be held in August.

Timeline: summer 2020 (construction begins)
Cost: $3.2 million-$4.1 million (depending on alternative)
Funding sources: 2017 Travis County bond funds

5. Loop 360 improvements

TxDOT held a workshop June 6 to field public input for its Loop 360 improvements project, which will add overpasses with non-signalized U-turns in both directions at the Lakewood Drive and Spicewood Springs Road intersections.

The overpass projects aim to increase mobility and flow of traffic along Loop 360. The project will also add shared-use paths and sidewalks at the intersections to improve bicycle and pedestrian travel.

TxDOT has begun environmental study and design work for this stretch of the Loop 360 improvements, and work is expected to continue for at least two more years.

Timeline: construction expected to begin late 2022, could take two-three years to complete
Cost: TBD
Funding sources: TxDOT

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Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the reporter for Northwest Austin.
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