FIRST LOOK: Check out the new SH 45 SW toll road in South Austin before it opens in May

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Construction on one of the region’s most anticipated transportation projects, SH 45 SW, is in its final stages, and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority will host a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the project’s completion May 18. SH 45 SW will open to traffic by the end of May.

SH 45 SW includes entrances at the south end of MoPac Expressway, at Bliss Spillar Road and at FM 1626. A shared-use bicycle and walking trail is included in the project alongside a nature viewing area near Bear Creek.

Mobility Authority Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein told Community Impact Newspaper that SH 45 SW will give those who work in Austin access to affordable houses in Hays County. Hays County motorists who currently commute through South Austin to get to MoPac Expressway can use the future toll road to circumvent local traffic and save time. He said it will cost motorists $1 per trip to take the toll.

The toll’s May opening will also give traffic relief to major South Austin roads such as Brodie Lane, Slaughter Lane and Manchaca Road, Heiligenstein said.

“Everybody realizes this is a long time coming,” he said. “It gives Austinites another access route into and out of the city.”

A key factor in the project was to make the road as clean as possible to assure local water quality standards were met, and Heiligenstein said he believes the road is “the cleanest in Texas.” The shared-use pedestrian and bike path constructed along SH 45 SW, which will connect to the Violet Crown Trail system in the future, will offer locals additional recreational opportunities and areas to overlook conservation easements around the project, he said.

Hays County Commissioner Mark Jones said the new toll road will enhance the quality of life for residents of Hays County.

“Why didn’t they build this 30 years ago?” Jones jokingly asked. “Residents can’t wait [for the road to open].”

Remaining work for the project prior to the opening includes road striping and landscaping.

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  1. And then instead of being stuck in traffic on side streets before getting to Mopac, now you can pay $1/day to be stuck in traffic on Mopac even sooner. Just adding one underpass at Slaughter Lane broke south Mopac at morning rush hour. This is going to be an epic fail when school starts in the fall.
    TxDOT could address this over the summer with nearly no cost by metering entrances at Slaughter, Wm Cannon, Southwest Pkwy, and 360, but they won’t. No new lanes are going to cross the greenbelt or the river for years.

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Nicholas Cicale
Nick was born in Long Island, New York and grew up in South Florida. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in writing and a minor in music. Nick was a journalist for three years at the St. James Plaindealer in Minnesota before moving to Austin to join Community Impact Newspaper in 2016.
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