AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Work crews on Hwy 183 were busy Friday because they are on a tight deadline. Northbound main lanes, between Manor Rd and MLK, are scheduled to open Tuesday. Southbound; opens Wednesday. The overpass at Loyola Ln.is set to be completed by August 1st.
"Tension, but there is excitement,” said Jeffery Dailey with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
Taking this big step, according to Dailey, requires a lot of focus.
"We are putting all of our forces, all our contractor forces, are in the North 3-and-a-half-mile section of this roadway, so a lot of people going on, we have to make everything sequence out right so can meet these milestones,” said Dailey.
The 4 lanes of Hwy 183 were built back in the ‘60’s and improving it started long before the mobility authority was created. The promise of a better north-south bypass in east Austin is decades old. Even though this project involves paying a toll, residents like Ramona Ward consider it to be long overdue.
"It’s just good that everybody will get to have their own lane, so it works out for everybody,” said Ward.
The Southern part of Hwy 183 is called the Bergstrom Expressway. Main lanes will be tolled, but the $750 million project will increase free lanes from four to six. The number of red light intersections will also be decreased. Those with TXtags will get to ride free during the month of August.
When completed the Tollway will provide a fast track to the airport but there are features designed into the road that go beyond that. There will be pathways for bicycles as well as a series of pedestrian bridges. Special safety fencing is up to prevent Auto-Ped collisions; which has been a problem here in the past.
"It’s about quality of life. So we think this will make for a major improvement in people's quality of life, locally and within the region,” said Dailey.
The final phase of the project, to Hwy 71, is set to be completed by 2020.