Learn more about the 183 South Expressway
What is 183 South?
The 183 South Expressway Project is being built by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (Mobility Authority) in order to improve safety, optimize system connectivity, and enhance local mobility along the 183 corridor.
The project extends eight miles from US 290 to SH 71 in East Austin. The new $743 million expressway will serve as a gateway to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and as a bypass to Interstate 35. It will reduce travel times and improve mobility for commuters, local drivers, visitors, and people who prefer to use public transit, ride their bike or walk.
The project includes:
- A new tolled expressway featuring three lanes in each direction
- An improved non-tolled US 183 with two-to-three general purpose lanes in each direction
- A high tech traffic monitoring system for improved traffic management and emergency response
- Miles of new bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and shared use paths with connections to the regional trail system
- Upgrades to the visual appearance of the corridor through aesthetic enhancements and landscaping improvements
The 183 South Expressway Project was developed in coordination with the following partners: Mobility Authority; Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT); City of Austin; and Capital Metro.
What problem is the 183 South Project addressing?
The US 183 corridor from US 290 to SH 71 is one of Austin’s most important arterials. Constructed in the mid-1960s, the four-lane divided highway has seen only minor upgrades. As the primary route to and from the Austin Bergstrom International Airport and points beyond, it carries more than 60,000 cars and trucks a day and drivers face significant congestion during peak travel times. As traffic congestion has increased, quality of life in adjacent neighborhoods has become increasingly impacted and travel time to the airport has become unpredictable.
In 2011, the Mobility Authority and TxDOT launched an environmental study to assess the corridor and develop a reasonable and feasible approach to improve mobility. The study was approved in 2015 for construction to move forward.
How is the project funded?
The project is being funded through a mix of toll revenue bonds, government loans and government grants. Specifically, the Mobility Authority issued toll revenue bonds in the amount of $252.2 million. The Federal Government provided a $282.2 million loan under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The Texas Department of Transportation provided loans totaling $60 million plus a one-time grant of $146.3 million to help fund the non-tolled elements of the project.
How long will construction last?
Construction is projected to last just over four years and will occur in two phases:
- Phase 1: Includes improvements between US 290/290 Toll and Technicenter Drive and will be completed and open to traffic in 2019
- Phase 2: Includes improvements between Technicenter Drive and SH 71 and will be completed and open to traffic in 2020
Travelers and residents will see work occurring throughout the length of corridor even though opening of the project will be phased.
When are the hours of operation for construction?
To finish the project on schedule, construction may occur 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. However, the contractor will face financial penalties if a closure occurs outside of approved time frames.
In order to minimize noise from construction activities, the project team will follow a set of guidelines designed to preserve quality of life for adjacent neighborhoods. The contractor has a dedicated manager in charge of all noise mitigation efforts who will oversee the operation of a 24 hour, bilingual hotline to monitor and address all public inquiries. Public concerns will be addressed in a timely manner by reviewing work procedures and shifting work schedules where appropriate to lessen the duration of intrusive noise. To ensure that noise levels are not overly disruptive to the community, environmental inspectors will monitor the project and enforce reasonable noise levels. In addition, roadway signage will inform members of the public in advance of any noise-producing construction activities.
When are lane closures allowed?
We are committed to being a good neighbor to residents along the 183 South corridor. While constructing a project of this size will have to include some temporary lane closures, we want to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible. As such, we have incentivized the contractor to plan US 183 mainlane closures during off-peak times when possible, and to complete most traffic-impacting activities at night. Our intention is for the majority of traffic-impacting activities to occur during the following off-peak times, whenever possible:
• Sunday Morning: 12:00 Midnight to 10:00 AM
• Sunday Evening: 6:00 PM to 12 Midnight
• Monday-Friday Morning: 12:00 Midnight to 6:00 AM
• Monday-Friday Evening: 8:00 PM to 12:00 Midnight
• Saturday Morning: 12:00 Midnight to 10:00 AM
• Saturday Evening: 6:00 PM to 12:00 Midnight
In most cases, day time work will be focused on construction activities outside the immediate roadway. While it is our goal to limit lane reductions as much as possible, frontage road lane reductions may occur for an extended period of time for crews to construct the non-tolled general purpose lanes.
In most circumstances, work occurring on holidays or during special local events will be limited to activities that do not impact traffic. Lane closures on major holidays or during local events that draw large crowds to the City will be avoided when possible and will require special permission by the Mobility Authority and TxDOT.
Safety is our priority and incident response will be addressed expeditiously, with assistance from public safety officials as needed. During temporary closures that are anticipated to have a significant impact or cause extended travel time delays, law enforcement officers will be present.
What is a “design/build” project?
Under a design-build approach the contractor is responsible for both producing the roadway design and constructing the project. The design/build method can improve efficiencies, reduce costs and provide a timelier project completion.
Will private property by acquired for the project?
The majority of the property or right-of-way required for the project is already owned by the state. A small amount of additional property has been acquired for pedestrian bridges, shared-use paths and utility easements. However, no homes or businesses are being acquired.
Why are some crossover streets being removed?
The crossovers at 51st Street, Technicenter Drive, Bolm Road, Vargas Road, and Thompson Lane are being removed for improved safety and enhanced mobility as a result of traffic data and engineering analysis reports.
With the removal of those crossovers, you will instead cross 183 using non-signalized U-turns at nearby intersections. While you may have to travel a little further to reach the opposite side of 183, the amount of time it takes to get there should be comparable to current conditions, and, in some cases, possibly less.
For example, drivers heading east on 51st Street will no longer have to stop and wait at a traffic signal before being able to cross 183. Instead they will be able to immediately turn right onto the southbound general purpose lanes. They will then travel south to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard where they will be able to make an immediate U-turn without passing through the signalized intersection.
Was future growth considered when TxDOT approved this project for construction?
Very much so. The environmental study, approved in March 2015, assessed the direct and indirect impacts of the proposed transportation improvements to the human and natural environment. Potential direct and indirect impacts were also analyzed cumulatively. You can read our discussion of this analysis in the environmental study document here
. In short, the Mobility Authority and TxDOT are aware that growth along the corridor may happen as a result of the project as well as other factors. For example, we’ve been aware for some time of the city of Austin’s plan for a park northeast of US 183 and Bolm Road and as a result, we’ve planned for a bicycle/pedestrian crossing at that location.
Will the project add additional traffic signals for users of the non-tolled general purpose lanes?
No—it will actually reduce the number of traffic signals from five to two for drivers traveling from the north end of 183 (Anderson Mill/Lakeline area) to the airport. Drivers traveling this route currently pass through traffic signals at Loyola Lane, 51st Street, Technicenter Drive, Vargas Road, and Thompson Lane. Once the 183 South Project is complete, those traveling this route to the airport will be able to take the non-tolled general purpose lanes and will only have to pass through traffic signals at Loyola Lane and Montopolis Drive. In addition to fewer congestion-related travel delays, the project will also provide users of the non-tolled lanes faster travel times due to a reduction in the number of traffic signals.
Will any existing landscape be removed?
One of the project’s key goals is to enhance the corridor’s landscape. Nearly 2,000 native, drought-resistant trees will be planted throughout the corridor that will reduce water consumption and help prevent soil erosion. Some existing landscape will need to be removed for construction to occur. Native landscaping at key locations will be planted to help improve the visual appeal of the corridor.
Working with the community, the project team identified a number of large oak trees that will be nurtured and protected during construction to minimize the risk of loss. In addition, the Mobility Authority has partnered with the non-profit group Tree Folks
to promote maintenance and expansion of the urban tree canopy in Austin.
What is being done to improve mobility for people who walk or bike?
The project includes adding $25 million in bicycle and pedestrian facilities that span the entire lengths of the corridor, including:
- Conversion of the steel truss bridge over the Colorado River into a bicycle and pedestrian bridge
- Construction of a bicycle and pedestrian trail head at the Colorado River
- New pedestrian bridges crossing over the US 183 corridor at Springdale Road, YMCA/East 51st Street and Bolm Road
- Bike lanes on the US 183 general purpose lanes
- 10-foot-wide shared use path constructed along the entire 8-mile corridor
In addition, users of the facility will also have the choice to ride a Capital Metro bus or registered van pool. Capital Metro buses and registered van pools travel toll-free on the 183 South Expressway.
Why are the new lanes being constructed as toll lanes?
Central Texas does not receive enough funding from federal and state taxes to pay for all of the transportation improvements that are needed. Tolling entities like the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority have the flexibility to fund needed infrastructure improvements by borrowing money to build the facilities and then using the revenue from tolls to repay those loans.
Tolling is a user-based fee, similar to fees charged for the use of other public facilities such as parking garages, public buses and recreational facilities. User fees differ from taxes because you have the choice whether or not to use the toll facility and you receive a specific service in exchange for paying the toll. Taxes are not optional. Drivers have the option to pay tolls or take alternate routes while taxes are mandatory and charged to everyone.
Learn more about the Mobility Authority and tolling here
What will be the toll rate?
Toll rates will be comparable to those charged on other Mobility Authority toll roads like the US 290 (Manor Expressway). A trip on the entire 8-mile 183 South Expressway is expected to cost less than $3.00 (approximately 29-cents per mile) for TxTag customers when the project is fully open in 2020. The toll will be less for those with shorter trips. Actual toll rates will be set by the Mobility Authority Board of Directors prior to the project’s opening.
How will tolls be collected?
Tolls will be collected electronically from drivers with a TxTag, TollTag or EZ-Tag. Drivers who don’t have a tag account will still be able to use the tolled lanes and will be billed through the Pay By Mail program. Cameras will capture a photo of the vehicle’s license plate and a toll bill will be mailed to the owner. Drivers who pay with a TxTag, TollTag, or EZ Tag receive a toll discount of 25%.
Will I have to use the toll lanes once they are completed?
No. Use of the 183 South Expressway toll lanes will be optional. The Mobility Authority will be reconstructing the non-tolled US 183 general purpose lanes, eliminating a number of traffic signals and in some areas of the corridor adding additional lanes. Drivers will always have the option to use these non-tolled general purpose lanes.
Will Disabled Veterans, Purple Heart recipients and Medal of Honor recipients have to pay a toll to use 183 South?
The Mobility Authority Board of Directors and staff are grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of our military veterans. State law allows a Texas toll road entity to offer discounted or free tolls for vehicles with a Disabled Veteran, Purple Heart, or Legion of Valor specialty license plate. No state funds have been appropriated to defray the cost of providing this benefit, however, and the Mobility Authority does not offer discounted or free tolls under such a program at this time.
Toll reimbursements are available from the US Department of Veterans Affair. For more information, click here
How can I get more information?
For more information, questions or concerns you can call the project hotline at (512) 640-0060 or toll free at 1-855-245-4272 or visit the website at www.183South.com. You can also sign-up for the e-newsletter or schedule a presentation with the project team for your organization or group.
Call us at 1-855-245-4272 or send us a comment via our easy-to-use contact form.
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