New sections of the Hwy 183 rebuild are taking shape

Highway 183 through northwest Austin is undergoing a massive rebuild. The two separate projects are both running a little behind schedule. But, one small section is open, and it's providing a new lane addition for commuters.

The ramps that are being built over MoPac are new express lanes for Hwy 183. The ramps will provide links off and onto the MoPac tollway. 

A computer rendering shows how the elevated section will extend beyond Steck and toward 2222. It’s an impressive design that’s part of the larger $612 million 183 North rebuild that’s being done to help commuters like Karen Hawkins.

"It's crazy," said Karen Hawkins, who is looking forward to the end of the work.

The entire 183 North project is not scheduled to be completed until the end of 2025. In a surprise move, a section of new free lanes recently opened for commuters. With more sections opening by mid-August, 183 will offer eight free lanes. New retaining walls and drainage will allow Hwy 183 to be wider and will also allow for the construction of twin north and southbound express lanes. 

A lot of the work is happening in front of a painting company near Spicewood Springs. A tinted window and narrow parking lot are all that separates the heavy equipment from Maria Orrostieta and her desk.

"It's entertaining to see sometimes, but it's also a little bit scary sometimes when you're working, and they just hear a boom, they turn around or tell you this, the car crashes. I don't know any more if it's a car crash or a construction thing," said Orrosieta.

The end of the work may be welcomed, but Orrosieta said she may not spend any money to use the new express lanes.

"To be honest, probably not. I mean, who knows, right? If it calls for it, but probably not," said Orristieta.

The expansion of the 183A tollway is the other big project for the CTRMA. It’s a $259 million job. Most of the work takes place between the San Gabriel River and Liberty Hill at Hwy 29. Construction is running behind schedule, with completion now targeted for late October. 

The opening could slip to January, but when it does open, the additional toll lanes will give commuters, like Alex Panushkin, a new option."Yes. Especially when you need it," said Panushkin.

Project managers with the mobility authority say the opening of the new four lanes with the Hwy 183 north project already seems to be helping traffic flow. The big test will come when school starts up again in mid-August.