US 183 bridge demolition to close access into Austin

Before the end of the month, most, if not all, of the US 183 bridge over the Colorado River will be gone. 

Tearing it down is part of the Bergstrom Expressway, a toll road project managed by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

"It is a critical step and really on the southern end of the job we have a number of major elements of the project still to complete, this is probably the biggest of them," Steve Pustelnyk, director of Community Relations for the CTRMA, said.

To cross the river, northbound traffic will move to the new bridge, which Tuesday was only being used by southbound traffic. The exit to downtown and Airport Boulevard will be closed for about a year. 

"With removal of that bridge, there really is no other way to direct that traffic into downtown other than with the detour route," Pustelnyk said.

By next week, getting into downtown and on to Airport will require taking a detour off of Bolm Road.

"If you are on northbound 183 and you want to get to Airport Blvd or to the downtown streets you'll need to get to Bolm Road, do a u-turn, head back south a bit, exit right to Levander Loop, and then you'll have access to all of those downtown streets, so it is a little bit of a detour, that's out of your way and it will be in place for about a year," said Pustelnyk.

The plan includes shifting southbound drivers to the new frontage lanes, which will reopen up access to Montopolis Drive. A u-turn at Vargas Road will be necessary for those coming from Montopolis wanting to go north. 

Residents like Tameer Mackey are dreading what's coming. 

"To be honest we are planning on moving right now, man, we are planning on relocating, we are trying to get out of here because of the construction right now, that's why we are trying to relocate, brother," said Mackey.

While more barricades will be going up by the river, others will be coming down. A big chunk of the northern section of this project is about to open up.

"We are still on time, we are hoping to open the first phase in August, here, so north of MLK will be completely open to traffic with all the construction pretty much done there just some minor cleanup work there to do and then will continue to finish the southern half by next year," said Pustelnyk.

A repeat of what happened with MoPac is not expected. 

A key safety feature along the expressway will be the new pedestrian bridge near Manor Road. That bridge comes with a permanent detour: a new fence designed to keep people from trying to cross the road and running into traffic.