Updated Feb. 27
After a year and a half of awaiting its fate, the $504 million US 183 North toll project in Northwest Austin could move into the final phase of design and then construction over the next year.
The Texas Transportation Commission—the governing board for the Texas Department of Transportation—is slated to approve a project-development agreement and adding the proposed toll road to the state highway system at its Jan. 31 meeting.
Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which is overseeing the toll project, said these steps are necessary to resume planning on the project. Four total toll lanes, two in each direction, will be added to US 183 between MoPac and RM 620.
Construction on the project is expected to begin in spring 2020 and will take about four years to complete, Heiligenstein said. After receiving approval on the agreement, he said the Mobility Authority will be able to select a general contractor to design and build the project. The design-build process is similar to the MoPac express lanes project, which the Mobility Authority also oversaw, and the 183 South project currently underway between Toll 290 and Hwy. 71.
“Since they’ll be working in the middle [of the highway]primarily, there should be a minimal amount of disruption [to traffic],” Heiligenstein said.
The Mobility Authority would handle construction of the new toll lanes as well as the fourth continuous nontolled lane that TxDOT is financing for $105 million. The existing three main lanes in each direction will remain nontolled as well as the new fourth lane.
In late 2017, questions arose over the comingling of funds, including from voter-approved propositions 1 and 7, for nontolled portions of toll projects. A statewide moratorium on toll projects has since lifted allowing projects such as 183 North to proceed with support from TxDOT.
“That’s a real critical point,” Heiligenstein said. “It represents the new TxDOT and their focus on nontolled.”
The project also includes direct connectors, or flyovers, to MoPac and will tie in to Toll 183A in Cedar Park. This would allow drivers to take tolled lanes all the way from Leander to downtown Austin.
“We studied the integration into MoPac north and what happens with traffic flow,” Heiligenstein said. “One of the interesting things we found with the modeling is a significant portion of the traffic has been moving from [SH 45 N] over to Loop 1 instead of fighting 183 North traffic. We think 25 percent will come back to 183 and stay in those lanes.”
Heiligenstein said this could lead to decreased travel times on Loop 1, which is the tolled portion north of Parmer Lane, and MoPac north of Far West Boulevard.
For more information, visit www.183north.com.
Editor’s note: This post was updated to provide an updated total cost.