Last week, The Texas Transportation Commission granted preliminary approval of a $203.4 million loan and grant package for the 183 South Project, an eight-mile Expressway that The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is constructing between US 290 and SH 71.
Locals can expect three new toll lanes and up to three general-purpose lanes in each direction, as well as direct connector ramps at US 183 and SH 71. The project is estimated to cost between $750 and $800 million, not including the financing costs.
According to Mobility Authority Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein, this will be the largest roadway project in Central Texas since the construction of SH 130.
“This project will offer a key detour route when re-construction takes place on IH 35 through central Austin,” he said. “It’s a win for all Central Texans - offering a non-stop, signal free route to the airport while preserving and enhancing the non-tolled frontage lanes, and adding significant bicycle and pedestrian improvements.”
The Texas Transportation Commission granted preliminary approval for the Mobility Authority to receive a State Infrastructure Bank Loan of up to $30 million, a toll equity loan of up to $30 million and a toll equity grant of $143.4 million from the State Highway Fund. The remainder of the construction financing will come from toll revenue bonds, and a Transportation Infrastructure and Innovation Act loan given by the Federal Highway Administration.
“Although the Texas Department of Transportation has new transportation funding for the Austin region following the passage of Proposition One, those funds are not available to construct toll roads,” Heiligenstein said. “Even if they were available, this project alone would take more than our region’s allocation for many years.”
This project will include pedestrian bridges, and a seven-mile, 10-foot wide shared use path for pedestrian and bicycle travel. Major trailheads will connect the Shared Use Paths with nearby hike and bike trails. According to Bike Texas spokesperson Su Wilcox, the project will provide key connections with the Lane Armstrong bikeway and the Southern Walnut Creek Trails.
“When economic development comes to this corridor, folks will have more options to get to those jobs without adding to congestion on the road,” Wilcox said. “This can also help address our public health crisis by providing a safe space for recreation.”
Construction will start in 2016, and is expected to last four years. The construction will take place in phases, with phase one improvements, between US 290/290 Toll and Bolm Rd., expected to be complete in late 2019. The second phase will open to traffic about a year later. Below is a map highlighting the limits of the project.