First phase of US 183 South toll project in East Austin opens July 31


A major toll project that runs through East Austin has hit its interim construction milestone on time, and the first phase of the new toll road will open July 31.

By 5 a.m. July 31, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority will open the new toll lanes on northbound US 183 between Toll 290 and Techni Center Drive. By 5 a.m. Aug. 1, the southbound US 183 toll lanes will open in that section.

“There could be some congestion at first as people adjust to the new lane configurations,” said Steve Pustelnyk, director of community relations for the Mobility Authority.

The entire project will open in late 2020, allowing drivers to use three toll lanes in each direction on US 183 between Toll 290 and SH 71. The $743 million project began in May 2016 and includes $25 million worth of pedestrian and bicycle improvements, including converting the Montopolis steel truss bridge into a bicycle and pedestrian facility.

Drivers with a toll tag who use the new toll lanes will not pay tolls through Aug. 31. After that, the facility will accept toll tags, including TxTag, TollTag, EZ-Tag, K-TAG, Pikepass and BancPass. Drivers may also pay by mail but will be charged an additional $1 processing fee. The toll on the northern portion will be $1.21 for tag users and $1.82 for pay by mail. The toll for the ramps at Loyola Lane will be $0.65 for tag users and $0.98 for pay by mail.

The biggest change for northbound US 183 drivers is the traffic signal at Techni Center will be removed, and the signal at Loyola will be turned on, Pustelnyk said.

“With the removal of the Techni Center light, there will only be two lights on northbound 183, and there used to be five lights,” he said. “We would expect northbound traffic to flow really well.”

Even with fewer traffic signals, he said access to neighborhoods and businesses on US 183 will be easier. Drivers can use unsignalized U-turns at Loyola near Bolm Road, Montopolis Drive, MLK Jr. Boulevard and Patton Avenue.

“It will be easier to travel the corridor, especially during rush hour,” Pustelnyk said. “It’s the next step toward faster and smoother travel. Techni Center has been impediment to traffic flow.”

On the southbound side, Pustelnyk said the changes will not seem as drastic, and drivers may still experience some congestion near FM 969 when the toll lanes end and drivers transition to two lanes.

Here are a few other things to know about the current status of the US 183 South project:

  • By 5 a.m. Aug. 2, the Loyola Lane crossing over US 183 will reopen after a year-and-a-half-long closure to reconstruct the bridge.
  • The shared-use path between MLK Jr. Boulevard and Toll 290 will open with the northern section. However, the pedestrian bridges at Manor Road and 51st Street will open in mid-August by the time school starts.
  • Although the project may be open on the northern end, crews are still tying up project elements so drivers can expect to see lane closures happening overnight.
  • On southbound US 183, the bypass road to avoid the traffic signal at FM 969 without using the toll lanes will be reduced from two lanes to one. This will allow for a smoother transition to the southern portion of the roadway, which is still under construction.
  • Rehabilitation of the Montopolis steel truss bridge will begin in August or September. The Mobility Authority plans to keep the bridge open during the rehabilitation. The 80-year-old historic bridge closed in October to traffic.

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Amy Denney
Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.
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