Before making any decisions on the contract for a major project to add tolled express lanes along US 183 from MoPac to SH 45 N, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s board of directors requested a few more days to dig into the details of how staff evaluated and scored proposals from contractors.

Following a Jan. 27 decision to delay a vote, the board voted unanimously Feb. 8 to move forward in the process and stay on track to have the Northwest Austin project break ground later in the year and open to traffic in 2026.

After receiving bids from three firms for the design-build contract—which means that the contractor will both design and execute the work—the board chose to accept staff’s recommendation to move forward with a $477 million bid from Great Hills Constructors.

The vote does not actually execute the contract but rather authorizes the Mobility Authority’s staff to work out the final contract details. Execution is expected this spring. The design-build contract is the major piece of the $612 million overall budget for 183 North.

At the Jan. 27 meeting, board members said they did not want to move forward on such a major decision without more detail from staff. Acting CTRMA Engineering Director Mike Sexton broke down the rubrics staff use to evaluate bids Feb. 8.

Board Member Mark Ayotte said he appreciated the extra information before making an important decision on how to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Six years from now, this could be seen as one of—if not the most—important project the RMA has built: not only connecting the north to the south, [but also] connecting Williamson with Travis. This one is the critical one in my mind,” Ayotte said.

Total cost: $612 million

Timeline: 2021-26

Funding sources: toll revenue bonds, TxDOT

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to correct the date of the Jan. 27 board meeting.