Regional Transportation updates

 Regional Transportation updates


1. Loop 360
Texas Department of Transportation is considering extending a mobility study of the roadway between MoPac in North Austin and Hwy. 290 in South Austin. In October, TxDOT closed a community survey that asked residents to rank the problems and proposed solutions to traffic congestion. Respondents identified decreased congestion and more reliable travel times as top priorities. TxDOT will release a draft report in the spring for additional public input.
Timeline: late 2014-mid-2016
Cost: $1.27 million

2. Oak Hill Parkway
TxDOT and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority are conducting an environmental study on traffic solutions for the Hwy. 71 and Hwy. 290 intersection. The project team is refining two concepts and a no-build option and plans to hold a workshop in early 2016. The study is slated to be complete in 2017.


3. Austin Bergstrom International Airport
In July, the airport completed construction on an expansion of the upper level that connects the terminal and the airport’s east wing. The expansion added two new luggage carousels. In October the airport opened a new rental car facility. New nonstop flights added in 2015 connect travelers to Toronto, Miami, Portland, St. Louis, Orlando and Memphis. Projects in 2016 include a nine-gate terminal expansion and new parking.

4. Austin Executive Airport
After finishing a new community hangar in 2014, the Plugerville-based airport did not pursue additional developments in 2015. The airport continues to assess business and community needs and has about 100 aircraft based on-site, Manager Jodie Kaluza said.

5. Georgetown Municipal Airport
In 2015 the airport proposed building a new fuel facility, a project that would replace existing in-ground fuel tanks with two new above-ground tanks that would have self-serve pumps. TxDOT finished an environmental assessment study for the project.

6. San Marcos Regional Airport
Director of Marketing and Administration Cassidy Berenato said the airport’s 2015 rebuilding of Runway 13/31 experienced delays because of flooding. In January the work should be finished. Two more projects could begin in 2016—installing a parking lot as well as a safety fence and new access gates along Airport Drive. In 2014 the city of San Marcos appropriated $100,000 for the new parking lot, and TxDOT appropriated $350,000 for the fence and gates.


The following projects in TxDOT’s Mobility 35 program will be funded in fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16 through the state’s Proposition 1, which voters approved in November 2014.

7. Hwy. 79 to SH 45N
Braided ramps will eliminate weaving movements as vehicles attempt to merge on northbound I-35. The northbound and southbound frontage road intersections at I-35 and US 79 will be reconstructed, and a third left-turn lane from westbound Hwy. 79 to southbound I-35 will be added.
Timeline: spring 2016-spring 2018
Cost: $28.1 million

8. Stassney Lane to William Cannon Drive
The bridges at Stassney and William Cannon and the frontage road bridge over Williamson Creek will be reconstructed. U-turns will also be added at Stassney and William Cannon, and the main I-35 lanes will be widened to incorporate shoulders and extended entrance and exit lanes.
Timeline: spring 2016-winter 2019-20
Cost: $79 million

9. Slaughter Creek overpass
The existing Slaughter Creek overpass will be replaced with a new bridge, and a U-turn bridge will be added. The project will also widen the southbound frontage road to two lanes near the overpass and install safety lighting from Slaughter to Onion Creek Parkway.
Timeline: spring 2016-summer 2017
Cost: $9.2 million

10. RM 150 to Blanco River
One new off ramp will be added, and five existing on and off ramps will be modified between RM 150 and the Blanco River to improve safety and access.
Timeline: spring 2016-winter 2016
Cost: $9 million

11. RM 1431 to FM 3406
The project modifies two ramps on southbound I-35 and improves the southbound frontage road between RM 1431 and FM 3406.
Timeline: will be sent for bidding in summer 2016
Cost: estimated $10.7 million

12. 51st Street intersection
The project adds a collector-distributor road, or bypass lane, to allow southbound through-traffic to avoid the traffic signal at 51st street. A new roundabout will be added to the intersection with the southbound frontage road. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities will also be improved along the southbound frontage road.
Timeline: will be sent for bidding in summer 2016
Cost: estimated $20.6 million

13. Oltorf Street
The Oltorf and I-35 interchange will be improved and reconstructed from south of Woodland Avenue to Woodward Street. Improvements will include the reconstruction of the Oltorf bridge, improved entrance and exit ramps and frontage roads, extended entrance and exit lanes for main lanes and ramps, and the addition of U-turns. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities will also be improved along both frontage roads.
Timeline: will be sent for bidding in summer 2016
Cost: $54.5 million

Toll Roads

The Mobility Authority and TxDOT are proposing or building several tolled projects throughout the region.

14. MoPac South
This project will create two express lanes in each direction from Cesar Chavez Street to Slaughter Lane. TxDOT and the Mobility Authority are currently performing an environmental study for the project and anticipate results in late 2016.
Timeline: TBD
Cost: $480 million-$540 million

15. MoPac North
This project is under construction and includes widening the existing roadway to add one express lane in each direction from Parmer Lane to Cesar Chavez. The project includes two grade-separated connections from the express lanes to Cesar Chavez.
Timeline: October 2013-late 2016
Cost: $204 million

16. SH 71
The project is under construction and consists of the addition of one tolled lane in each direction with an overpass at FM 973. The project extends about 4 miles from Presidential Boulevard to SH 130.
Timeline: early 2015-June 2016
Cost: $140 million

17. SH 45 SW
This project will extend from Loop 1 to FM 1626, consists of four main lanes and includes an at-grade intersection at FM 1626, an overpass at Bliss Spillar Road, and a grade-separated interchange at Loop 1.
Timeline: tentative April 2016 letting
Cost: $109 million

18. 183 North
This project will include two express lanes in each direction and an additional general purpose lane from RM 620/SH 45 N to Loop 1. TxDOT is performing an environmental study for the project, and officials anticipate results in winter 2016.
Timeline: 2019 tentative letting date
Cost: $650 million

19. 183 South
This proposed project will improve the existing four-lane divided roadway with signalized intersections to a tolled six-lane controlled-access facility with grade separations and six-lane access roads. The project extends from Hwy. 290 south to Hwy. 71.
Timeline: construction expected to begin in spring 2016
Cost: $743 million

Project connect and transit

Project Connect

Project Connect is a regional mass transit plan spearheaded by Capital Metro, the city of Austin and the Lone Star Rail District. It launched in 2013 with studies of two transportation corridors identified as top priorities.

North Corridor
Since the completion of the North Corridor Study in 2014, Capital Metro representatives have been meeting with stakeholders in the area—such as Pflugerville, Hutto, and Georgetown—and assisting with the development of local transit development plans. A Capital Metro representative said it is important for cities in the North Corridor to develop their own local plans before collaborating on the funding and implementation of Project Connect initiatives.

Central Corridor
After Austin voters rejected a $1 billion urban rail bond measure in 2014 that was based off Project Connect recommendations, Project Connect partners decided to gather more public input on Austin transportation needs and conduct another Central Corridor study to identify high-capacity transit options, a representative said.


Capital Metro is continuing design work on several planned upgrades to its MetroRail commuter line. The transit agency received a $50 million grant from TxDOT and an $11.3 million federal grant to improve the line and boost frequency and ridership. Capital Metro will finish relocating tracks near Plaza Saltillo in March and will begin construction in late 2016 on three sidings, or additional tracks, near rail stations to allow for more frequent service, said Todd Hemingson, vice president of strategic planning and development. The agency will finish final design and environmental clearance in 2016 on the new downtown station near the Austin Convention Center, and the station will open in early 2018.

In June, Capital Metro launched its Frequent Service Network to provide more convenient service and better connectivity on five of its bus routes. Hemingson said three months later, three of those routes had already met projected ridership increases. Capital Metro will wait until its Connections 2025 service plan is completed in late 2016 before determining what other bus routes it could add to the FSN.


A volunteer unloads food from a truck during the Central Texas Food Bank's April 4 event to feed families in need at Nelson Field in Austin. (Courtesy Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food Bank delivering boxes of food directly to homes through 2021

Some families will be eligible to have boxes with food for 25 meals delivered by Amazon.

Williamson County Commissioner Court members joined Taylor City Council members for a joint meeting to pass economic development agreements. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County, city of Taylor sign economic agreements, await Samsung commitment

$17B plant would employ 1,800 full-time Samsung employees, thousands of contractors

Rethink35 co-founder Adam Greenfield speaks during a news conference Sept. 1. Event organizers set up a pink line to represent how wide TxDOT's I-35 expansion would extend. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coalition of Austin council members, transportation advocates, neighborhood businesses unite against TxDOT’s I-35 plan

The coalition said that TxDOT needs to factor in climate change, connectivity between East and West Austin, and impacts on local businesses to its proposal.

Children arrive for the first day of school Aug. 17 at O Henry Middle School in Austin, where the public school district mandated mask wearing against Gov. Greg Abbott's order. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Education Agency allows mask mandates after federal lawsuit

The Texas Education Agency, facing a federal discrimination lawsuit, will not enforce Gov. Greg Abbott's masking order.

Waterloo Park will reopen to the public Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. (Courtesy/Buie & Co.)
Waterloo Park reopening event postponed due to COVID-19 Stage 5 risk

The Waterloo Park reopening ceremony, originally planned to feature a jazz ensemble, folkorico dance performances and a ribbon cutting ceremony, is cancelled due to the Stage 5 COVID-19 risk.

The largest metro areas across Texas drove population growth across the state, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Newly released U.S. Census data shows metropolitan areas drove Texas population growth

The gap between Texas’ Hispanic population and non-Hispanic white alone population is shrinking.

All Austin public school students, including those learning virtually, will have access to free lunches through June 2022. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD giving free lunch, breakfast to all students for 2021-22 school year

All students, including those attending school virtually, will have access to free meals through the federally funded program.

Photo of a hospital corridor
Region including Travis, Williamson, Hays counties down to 2 staffed ICU beds

Austin Public Health representatives say it is staffing, not space, that currently presents the greatest limitation.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced Aug. 9 the state has asked hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Abbott pens letter asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures

In a letter to the Texas Hospital Association on Aug. 9, Gov. Greg Abbott said multiple trauma service areas within Texas have approached the 15% threshold of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a percentage of total hospital capacity. 

The city council voted unanimously for the first zoning reading of the property the rezoning unanimously. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Zoning approved for new 50-acre mixed-use development in Leander

A development with 123 cottage-style homes, 70 two-family duplexes and commercial development will move ahead in Leander.

Tacodeli will unveil its new menu items in August. (Courtesy Mackenzie Smith Kelley)
Austin-based Tacodeli to begin serving cocktails and new dinner options

Tacodeli will begin serving cocktails and a new dinner menu in August.