SH 45 SW construction to begin in November after court rules in favor of Mobility Authority

The 3.6-mile, limited-access toll road would connect Loop 1 to FM 1626.

The 3.6-mile, limited-access toll road would connect Loop 1 to FM 1626.

SH 45 SW will consist of five construction segments, which include Green Space 1, from FM 1626 to Bear Creek, and Green Space 2, from Bear Creek to the interchange of SH 45 and Loop 1. SH 45 SW will consist of five construction segments, which include Green Space 1, from FM 1626 to Bear Creek, and Green Space 2, from Bear Creek to the interchange of SH 45 and Loop 1.[/caption]

The SH 45 SW project jumped another hurdle today after the U.S. District Court in Austin denied an injunction against the project, allowing construction to begin in November.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has been planning the 3.6-mile, four-lane toll road, which would connect Loop 1 in Travis County and FM 1626 in Hays County. It would also redirect commuting traffic from Manchaca Road, Slaughter Lane and Brodie Lane. Construction will take about three years.

"I couldn't be more pleased with the judge's ruling not to stand in the way of SH 45 SW construction," Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said in a statement. "Travis County voters approved purchasing SH 45 SW right of way nearly 20 years ago, and we've been fighting to see it built ever since. This project will create a more direct route to MoPac, meaning neighborhood streets will see relief from the traffic congestion they've been suffering for far too long."

David Holmes, who is running against Daugherty for the Precinct 3 seat Nov. 8, said he pledges to work with both sides on the issue and ensure the roadway is built effectively and environmentally.

"Now that construction is about to begin, I hope residents of Precinct 3 will focus on all of the other problems that need to be dealt with in south and west Travis County by electing a new commissioner," he said. “I hear from people all over Precinct 3 say to me essentially, 'Where is our SH 45 SW?' People want a commissioner who will focus on all of the issues in the entire precinct."

The project had faced delays because of opposition to its construction by the Keep MoPac Local Coalition, which filed the lawsuit in February to stop construction of both SH 45 SW and MoPac underpasses at Slaughter Lane and La Crosse Avenue.

That group is made up of the Save Our Springs Alliance and residents who want transportation authorities to look at SH 45 SW and other area projects as a whole and not individually. Residents also cited environmental impacts and how expanding Loop 1 would affect Austin High School. The coalition filed an injunction in September to prevent the start of construction on SH 45 SW.

“The claims brought by SOS were previously litigated and decided more than 20 years ago,” Mobility Authority Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein said in a statement. “The SH 45 SW environmental study followed state and federal regulations as required, and we have created a plan that exceeds all required environmental elements as a reflection of our community values.”

The project received environmental clearance in March. In September, the Mobility Authority and Texas Department of Transportation announced they secured the final funding agreements for the project. The Mobility Authority board unanimously approved in August McCarthy Building Companies Inc. to take on SH 45 SW project construction for up to $78.6 million. Travis and Hays counties both are contributing $20 million to the project.

Plans for SH 45 SW date back to before 1997, when voters approved $3.5 million to buy land for the road.
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels. She enjoys spending time with her husband, son and two cats.