New I-35 flyover opens to traffic and 4 other transportation updates to know in Northwest Austin

Northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 flyover
The reconstructed ramp connecting northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 is now open to drivers. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)

The reconstructed ramp connecting northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 is now open to drivers. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)

Image description
(Designed by Mel Stefka/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
(Designed by Mel Stefka/Community Impact Newspaper)
IMPROVEMENTS AT RM 620, ANDERSON MILL ROAD YEARS AWAY FROM BREAKING GROUND

Without dedicated funding from local, state or federal sources, much needed improvements at the intersection of RM 620 and Anderson Mill Road will not begin until at least 2027, according to state officials.

The Texas Department of Transportation on Aug. 26 hosted a virtual public meeting to preview early schematics for the project. According to slides presented by TxDOT, acquisition of nearby land for right of way will not start until spring 2023 with an anticipated construction start date in 2027 at the earliest.

“The RM 620 and Anderson Mill Road intersection project timeline is contingent on funding, right of way acquisition and utility relocation, and as such, dates are subject to change,” said Bradley Wheelis, public information officer for TxDOT, during the recorded Aug. 26 virtual presentation.

The proposed improvements at RM 620 and Anderson Mill currently do not have allocated funds for construction. In 2020, the project was stripped of $25 million in funding after the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to redirect those funds to help pay for the upcoming I-35 Capital Express Project.


“The proposed project does not currently have construction funding, but TxDOT is actively seeking funds to advance the improvements,” Wheelis said.

The proposed improvements include elevated bypass lanes that will help alleviate congestion at the intersection. According to early schematics for the project, the elevated bridge will run along RM 620 from just south of Anderson Mill to just north of El Salido Parkway.

The project will also add two- to three-lane frontage roads and 10-foot shared-use paths along RM 620.

According to TxDOT, the project scope stretches across both Travis and Williamson counties as well as the city limits of both Austin and Cedar Park.

TxDOT anticipates congestion at the intersection to steadily increase before any construction on improvements can begin. According to numbers presented by the state agency Aug. 26, the average daily traffic count at the intersection is expected to grow by 16% by 2025, up to 49,600 daily drivers, compared to 2019 numbers. By 2045, the number of daily drivers at that intersection is expected to reach 67,000.

Richard Greenwalt, who lives by the nearby Balcones Country Club, said he does not believe the existing TxDOT plans will do much to address local traffic congestion. The local resident wants to see planners build bypasses connecting RM 620 and US 183 to divert highway traffic away from neighborhood streets.

“You see roadwork and 18 wheelers—it is a lot of traffic,” Greenwalt said. “[Anderson Mill] wasn’t designed to take this kind of traffic.”

Final schematics on the project will be completed by the end of fall 2022, Wheelis said.

Read more here.

CAPITAL METRO REDUCES ROUTE FREQUENCY AMID STAFFING SHORTAGE

Capital Metro is temporarily reducing service on all 15 of its high-frequency network routes in addition to MetroRapid routes beginning Sept. 19.

Chief Operating Officer Dottie Watkins said at the Capital Metro Aug. 30 board meeting the transit agency is 100 bus operators short of what it would take to operate under typical service frequency

According to the Capital Metro website, the staffing shortage dates back a few years and has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The public transit agency is actively recruiting operators and technicians, offering up to $3,500 hiring bonuses for qualified candidates.

In an effort to provide more consistent service, Capital Metro will move some of its 10- to 12-minute frequency routes to 15 minutes as well as push some of its other routes to 20- or 30-minute frequencies.

Read more here.

ONGOING PROJECTS


I-35 flyover construction

The ramp connecting northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 is now open to drivers. One last flyover, which will connect northbound US 183 to northbound I-35, is expected to open later this fall.

Timeline: January 2018-fall 2021

Read more here.

Parmer Lane diverging diamond

TxDOT crews will add traffic signals at the intersection of Parmer Lane and I-35 as the state reconfigures the Parmer bridge for the upcoming diverging diamond interchange, which is expected to open in early October. Drivers should look out for new signage and lanes.

Timeline: summer 2019-early 2022

Read more here.

Anderson Mill Road improvements

Asphalt paving and striping is underway and expected to finish in early October. Remaining work includes lane adjustment, activation of new traffic signals and cleanup.

Timeline: July 2020-early 2022
By 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 editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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