AUSTIN, Texas - With the formality of a ceremonial groundbreaking completed Wednesday morning, heavy equipment will continue cutting a path through a growth of cedar in Northwest Austin.
Getting the job off of the drafting table has been a three-year process for project manager Tyler Brudnick
“It’s a unique project in itself, but it’s also very exciting to see come,” said Brudnick.
It all started back in January with Phase 1. That's when work got underway making 2222 wider through McNeil and River Place.
The goal now is to expand toward the gridlock at the four points intersection. A 2-mile long bypass just south of RM 620 reconnects just west of the intersection near Steiner Ranch.
About 50,000 vehicles every day travel through this intersection. Redirecting some of that traffic will have a major pay off according to TxDOT district engineer Tucker Ferguson. “The folks who will be able to take advantage of this we’ll see a great reduction, probably a 25% to 50% time reduction when they make that move,” said Ferguson.
The new $16 million bypass will be built between two power lines. The utility right of ways could help minimize development, allowing traffic to move without pausing for vehicles turning into new shopping & business centers. “We hope it does, a fast slide as you call it, but it is going to be a 2-mile slip ramp if you want to look at it that way,” said Ferguson.
Residents and commuters have waited more than a decade for this kind of traffic relief.
“This is everything to us, I mean every day we are sitting in traffic, these kids are taking sometimes 50 minutes to an hour to get to get to school from Steiner Ranch, over here, to Vandegrift, this is everything, this is quality of life this is safety, this changes the world for us,” said Brian Thompson the chairman of the Steiner Ranch neighborhood association.
The widening of 2222 will be done by this summer.
The bypass by mid-2021. By then the focus will be turned into finding a way to move all this heavy equipment to 620. TxDOT is launching a study on how to improve traffic flow on 620 between Mansfield Dam and Highway 183.
Neighborhood outreach programs are expected to start in the spring. It’s a first step in what will be a massive and lengthy undertaking. “It obviously would involve some type of lane expansion, and turning movement expansion and additional signals possibly, but it’s wide open right now as to what we’re going to be able to do,” said Ferguson.
The road improvement plans currently stop at 4 points. There are no immediate plans to move through Lakeway.
About half of the money for the bypass project is coming from the city of Austin; which is using the cash raised from the 2016 bond vote.