A project that will improve mobility between Toll 290 and SH 130 east of Austin will receive a $46.94 million loan from the federal government.
The funds will help the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority construct three direct connectors, or flyovers, between the two tollways. Construction began in December on the $127 million project, which will open in 2021.
“This $46 million investment will help reduce congestion at a major intersection along US 290 Expressway, and will also improve reliability on this hurricane evacuation route,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a March 21 statement.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau is providing the loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, program. Revenues from tolls on the project—as well as from Toll 183A, Toll 290, SH 71 and US 183 South when it fully opens by early 2020—will be used to repay the TIFIA loan.
At the Mobility Authority’s Feb. 27 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Bill Chapman said an agency analysis showed TIFIA loans could provide savings of $150 million alone on just the US 183 South toll project, which is under construction between Hwy. 290 and Hwy. 71. Seeking future TIFIA loans on the agency’s next three projects could result in savings of $250 million to $400 million, he said.
“We’ve saved millions going this route versus going to the market to sell bonds,” Chapman said.
The Texas Department of Transportation is also providing $41.1 million to fund one of the flyovers, which will be nontolled. This flyover will connect eastbound Toll 290 to southbound SH 130. Funds for this flyover will come from toll revenues from the Central Texas Turnpike System, which includes SH 130 and SH 45 N.
The Mobility Authority will finance the remainder of the project using toll revenue bonds. The other two flyovers will connect from northbound and southbound SH 130 to westbound Toll 290. Those two flyovers will be tolled.