Texas DOT to Cut Congestion, Increase Safety with Highway Improvement Project

Texas Department of Transportation announced last week a plan to increase safety and reduce congestion for drivers on State Highway 71 in Austin.

Currently, drivers spend about 2,500 hours each day sitting in traffic along SH 71 near Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) due to the many red lights drivers at which drivers must stop. In order to help drivers move more efficiently along the highway, TxDOT plans to add additional tolled express lanes from Spirit of Texas and Presidential Boulevard to just east of SH 130 while also reconstructing and realigning FM 973 intersections at SH 71.

TxDOT says these roadway improvements should reduce motorist delays and allow drivers the option of using those tolled express lanes to bypass signals at FM 973 and SH 130.

"This latest plan for improving SH 71 provides the final link, enabling drivers to travel from South Mopac to ABIA and SH 130 without being forced to stop at an intersection," TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson in a statement. "Think of the time drivers will save every day having a much more efficient way to travel through this critical area."

The improvements are projected to cost just over $140 million. About $60 million of that will come from dedicated SH 130 concession funds.

"Using private dollars to fund a large portion of the construction gives us the opportunity to dramatically advance this project form a long-term unfunded vision to a reality," says Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton.

TxDOT says it will begin construction in late 2014.

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