Sunday at 5 am, TXDOT will open the first phase of a huge roundabout at the intersection of 51st and I-35. From Thursday night until then, they will close lanes in each direction temporarily to do more paving and complete the circle. It may be convenient to avoid the intersection this weekend.
“People have known this is coming for a while. We are finally going to be open one lane of that roundabout. We are going to detour you to the bypass lane. So you won't actually be able to reach the intersection of 51st,you will bypass that intersection and go on down to Airport,” said Diann Hodges with TXDOT.
Crews will be removing all traffic signals to make the intersection free flowing.
“Instead of having to up to a light and waiting for it to turn green in order to make a left or go straight, you will now be able to freely enter the roundabout. You’ll be able to exit to the right in the direction you want to go,” said Hodges.
TXDOT is preparing for any mishaps that may come along. Police officers will be at the intersection to guide drivers who may not be too familiar with roundabouts. But officials are excited to see how Austin drivers accept the new addition.
“We anticipate people will be able to travel through that intersection on an average of four minutes faster than they do now,” said Hodges.
In addition, not only does the roundabout cut commute time, but TXDOT says, they are safer
“They reduce fatality crashes by up to 90 percent. Most fatality crashes occur because perhaps somebody's making a left and somebody runs a light and they hit,” said Hodges.
Cyclists and pedestrians will have accommodations under this redesign. The project costs 16.5 million dollars and is expected to be finished by springtime.