78° F Saturday, June 24, 2017

A straight shot to Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Texas 71 is one of Austin’s – and its surrounding areas – most important arteries.

This vital corridor provides commuters from Bastrop County a direct route to US 183 and US 290, and the Texas Department of Transportation has plans to toll a portion of this state highway within the next year and half.

According to officials, the new project, funded in large part by the Texas 130 tollway, will alleviate congestion and improve safety along Texas 71 near Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

The project will consist of adding an additional lane in both directions and managed lanes to bypass traffic lights. There will be tolled express lanes from Spirit of Texas and Presidential Boulevard to just east of Texas 130, as well as the reconstruction and realignment of the FM 973 intersections at Texas 71.

“There will be the same number of non-toll lanes out there once the project is complete that exist today,” said TxDot’s Austin District Public Information Officer Kelli Reyna. “This project is adding toll lanes for those motorists who choose to use them. Those motorists that don’t want to use the toll lanes will be able to continue on the non-tolled lanes, just as they do today.”

TxDot is hopeful that these improvements will reduce congestion and delay for all motorists and give drivers the choice to use tolled express lanes to bypass signals at FM 973 and Texas 130.

“I have a great appreciation for transportation infrastructure that improves access and safety for the citizens of House District 17 and the State of Texas,” said State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt. “I am noting and looking at some local concerns about toll roads causing decreased access and inconvenience to existing local roadways.”

Concerned Bastrop County citizen Justin Bezner finds himself asking why this project is on the fast track when the new ‘SH 71 Superstreet’ was just completed.

“As one who drives this stretch of highway every day, the superstreet has seemed to improve the traffic flow,” he said. “With that said, one should question why a road improvement is completed just to start another road improvement on the same stretch of highway?”

“Super street” is one of TxDot’s newest intersection designs located at Texas 71 and FM 973 in East Austin. It was designed to ease congestion by rerouting the left turn and through movements, requiring drivers to turn right and make a U-turn at the next light.

“There have been complaints that once a toll road goes into place that existing roadways may have decreased speed limits and increased traffic control devices, such as stop signs and lights that interfere with local use,” Kleinschmidt said. “In particular, I am examining a bill filed by State Senator Zaffirini, Senate Bill 1253, that addresses these issues. My preference would be that Texas return to a process of constructing untolled public roadways.”

For more information about highway construction east of Bastrop on Texas 71, visit www.txdot.gov to become familiar with projects in the area.

We welcome your comments on our stories but will publish only those that do not violate our comment guidelines

Comments

Leave a Reply