AUSTIN — Today, State Senator Kirk Watson and officials with the Austin Chamber and city of Austin joined the Texas Department of Transportation as they proudly hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new State Highway 71 mainlanes between US 183 and Montopolis Drive in Travis County.
The one and a half-mile, $35 million project is part of TxDOT's plan to eliminate traffic signals along SH 71 between I-35 and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
"The opening of the SH 71 mainlanes under Riverside Drive removes a significant bottleneck for residents, commuters and airport passengers alike," said Senator Watson. "And it will be key to our ability to make significant improvements to I-35 downtown when it comes time to begin that construction."
The SH 71 mainlanes between US 183 and Montopolis Drive were upgraded to a controlled access facility to address congestion and travel delays by constructing six new mainlanes, three in each direction, underneath Riverside Drive and constructing six frontage road lanes, three in each direction. Prior to this project, the intersection was a six-lane divided roadway managed by a traffic signal at Riverside Drive.
"The partnership on this project between TxDOT and the city of Austin is a step in the right direction towards dramatically easing traffic congestion to and from Austin's airport," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. "Our residents and those visiting our city will find that this addition makes Austin more accessible than ever."
Work on the project began in Jan. 2012 by SEMA Construction, Inc. and is expected to be complete later this summer. The eastbound lanes were opened in May 2014.
"With the growth of our city, these new SH 71 mainlanes will improve mobility and safety along a heavily-traveled route in Austin," said Greg Malatek, TxDOT Austin District Engineer. "We are happy to celebrate the opening of these new lanes with all our partners and the citizens who drive on these roadways every day."
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail, and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its 11,000 employees are committed to working with others to provide safe and reliable transportation solutions for Texas by maintaining a safe system, addressing congestion, connecting Texas communities, and being a Best in Class state agency. Find out more at TxDOT.gov. Fan us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.