On May 1, the Texas Department of Transportation will unveil the first continuous flow intersection in the Austin area at the intersection of Aquarena Springs Drive and I-35 in San Marcos.

The intersection is designed in a way that is meant to lessen congestion by making it easier for drivers to turn left.

When approaching a CFI, left-turning drivers are directed to the left side of the road to a stop light. When they receive a green light, the driver makes his or her way to the far left side of the road where they stop at an additional light. When that light turns green, they turn left and continue driving on the right side of the road.

Other drivers pass through the intersection as normal, but because they do not have to wait for drivers turning left, they receive longer green lights.

TxDOT Public Information Officer Kelli Reyna said the signals will be timed to ensure safety and efficiency.

"The only difference between the continuous flow intersection and a traditional intersection is the left turning movement," Reyna said. "Left-turning traffic, instead of them turning in the middle of the roadway where they're crossing in front of opposing traffic, they'll be making that movement a few hundred feet back from the intersection."

According to a TxDOT news release about the new intersection, CFIs provide many benefits over traditional intersections. Those include higher safety levels, improved travel time, a higher volume of traffic and lower cost maintenance and implementation.

The CFI will only be used on the west side of Aquarena Springs, Reyna said. TxDOT is planning a similar intersection at Hopkins and I-35 in San Marcos, which will include the intersections on the east and west side of the highway.

"Our big goal right now is just to reinforce that message that if you follow the signs, if you look at the pavement markings and follow the roadway geometry, it will guide you through the intersection," Reyna said. "Everything will be fine and you don't have to know or understand how it works. All you have to do is follow the leader just like you do today."

Reyna said while traffic on Aquarena Springs will move into the CFI configuration on May 1, there are other improvements to the intersection that will continue through the end of May. The total cost of the improvements at the intersections of I-35 and Aquarena Springs Drive and Hopkins Street are estimated at $4.7 million.