These local transportation projects could be funded by Texas’ $2.1B revenue bucket

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About $2.1 billion in state revenue is expected to help fund a decade’s worth of major transportation projects on I-35 and other Central Texas roadways.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board on Monday approved a list of Central Texas projects slated to receive construction funding as part of the state’s Unified Transportation Program, which is a 10-year project planning document the state approves each year.

I-35 projects at Williams Drive in Georgetown and at Parmer Lane in North Austin are included as well as plans to eliminate traffic signals on Loop 360 by adding overpasses and underpasses. The city of Austin would also contribute $46 million toward the Loop 360 project as part of November’s voter-approved bond package.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that this is on there,” said Austin City Council Member Sheri Gallo, whose district includes Loop 360. “Those of us that travel Loop 360 know the congestion has gotten substantially worse every year. It was part of my support for the mobility bond.”

TxDOT’s Austin district is slated to receive the funding between fiscal years 2017-18 and 2025-26 for projects in three categories: urban mobility, statewide connectivity and congestion relief. But the funding comes with a caveat.

“There are no guarantees that this funding will actually come to fruition,” said Lorena Echeverria de Misi, director of transportation planning and development with TxDOT’s Austin district. “This is anticipated based on revenue streams.”

The funding includes additional revenue from propositions 1 and 7 that Texas voters approved to allocate more funding to transportation. TxDOT Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy said TxDOT’s governing board, the Texas Transportation Commission, looked at estimated cash flows for the next 10 years and allocated appropriate amounts statewide.

“The goal is to have a steady funding stream to plan against, allowing us to be very efficient in how we deliver projects,” he said.

McCoy said the amount of available funding has hit record numbers because of these new revenue streams.

“Our funding levels are almost double from what they’ve been in the past,” he said.

The approved list of projects heads to the TTC in January and will be approved at the TTC’s February meeting. The full list includes some projects in multiple categories:

Urban mobility

  • $15.2 million: Reconstruct the interchange of I-35 and Williams Drive in Georgetown
  • $12.5 million: Reconstruct the intersection of I-35 and Parmer Lane in North Austin with a diverging diamond intersection
  • $14.6 million: Make operational improvements at I-35 and Wells Branch Parkway in North Austin
  • $250 million: Add overpasses and underpasses at nine signalized intersections on Loop 360 in West and Northwest Austin. The amount is in addition to the city of Austin’s $46 million.

Statewide connectivity

  • $26.6 million: Replace the bridge on I-35 at Posey Road in Hays County
  • $54 million: Build overpasses on Hwy. 71 at Tucker Hill Lane, Pope Bend Road and FM 1209 in Bastrop County
  • $48 million: Build overpasses on Hwy. 71 at Ross and Kellam roads in eastern Travis County
  • $16.9 million: Widen Hwy. 290 from FM 2104 to the Lee County line
  • $40 million: Widen Hwy. 290 in Bastrop County near FM 696
  • $15.2 million: Reconstruct the interchange at I-35 and Williams Drive in Georgetown
  • $12.5 million: Reconstruct the intersection of I-35 and Parmer Lane in North Austin with a diverging diamond intersection
  • $14.6 million: Make operational improvements at I-35 and Wells Branch Parkway in North Austin
  • $7.7 million: Add center left-turn lane and shoulders on Hwy. 281 in Burnet County

Congestion relief

  • $202 million: Add direct connectors between I-35 and US 183 and add shoulders and merge lanes, improve entrance and exit ramps, and improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities on I-35 between Rundberg Lane and Hwy. 290 in North Austin
  • $159 million: Add shoulders and merge lanes, improve entrance and exit ramps, improve frontage roads, and improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities on I-35 between Holly and Oltorf streets in South Austin
  • $120 million: Build two general-purpose lanes on US 183 between MoPac and SH 45 N in Northwest Austin. This project would be done in partnership with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which is planning to build toll lanes. The funding would only go toward the general-purpose lanes.

Other comprehensive projects along I-35 would also receive about $477 million in funding, leaving about $830 million of funding available in the Austin area. The CAMPO board plans to revisit other projects to allocate the remaining funds in early 2017.

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Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat report for the Austin area. Amy is a native of Kansas City, Missouri and an avid Royals fan.

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