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Author Topic: Austin 183 North expansion study: No surprise, TxDOT recommends toll lanes  (Read 3351 times)

MaxConcrete

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This past week there was a meeting to reveal the recommended option, and the web site was updated. The section under consideration is in North Austin from Loop 1 (Mopac Blvd) to SH 45. North of SH45 the highway is tolled.

The existing facility was built mostly in the 1990s with the last section opening around 2003. It is generally 3 lanes in each direction, but the north part has four lanes each way. I lived in Austin 1997-2003 and I remember checking out the progress as it was built.

The existing facility has a median around 30 feet wide. I always viewed it as being wide enough for two new lanes.

Main project web site:http://www.183north.com/
Page for recommended option including links to schematics: http://www.183north.com/environmental/virtual-open-house.php
Recommended alternative cross section http://www.183north.com/Station%205%20-%20Recommended%20Alternative.pdf

Observations:

Virtually every TxDOT study in Texas recommends tolled managed lanes, so this is no surprise. The best you can hope for is the inclusion of one new free lane in each direction, and that did not happen on this project.

The proposed configuration is 3-2T-2T-3 south of McNeil (about the south 60% of the project) and 4-2T-2T-4 north of McNeil.

The depictions suggest the toll lanes will be separated by pylons rather than barriers. It isn't clear to me if there will be shoulders. It also isn't clear to me if the existing pavement will be widened in the space between the main lanes and frontage roads.

I'm thinking that they may be planning to do this on the cheap by filling in the center median with concrete, narrowing the lanes and squeezing in all the new lanes without shoulders.

On the plus side, the schematics show two new connection ramps at the SH 45 interchange, NB 183 to WB 45 and EB 45 to SH 183.

Overall, this is nothing to get excited about, but it probably the best that can be hoped for. TxDOT generally thinks small for Austin because the political climate tends to be anti-freeway.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 02:29:46 PM by MaxConcrete »
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Marc

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Great. More tolls.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Austin 183 North expansion study: No surprise, TxDOT recommends toll lanes
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2015, 11:06:49 PM »

Some good news on this project. The official web site is reporting that the recommendation will be to add a non-tolled fourth lane in each direction on the section which is currently three lanes in each direction. For the section under study, from MoPac (Loop 1) to SH 45, the north half of the existing facility has four lanes each way and the south half has three lanes each way. The original recommendation from last year was to add two tolled lanes in each direction. However, I don't know if that will fit with the addition of the non-tolled lane. The March 5 meeting should reveal how it will be done.

http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=ef298267074af4354bbc2a623&id=8cfa366b62

".. the project proposes upgrading the existing US 183 North by extending the fourth non-tolled general purpose lane through areas where only three exist now. This enhancement is designed to address bottlenecks in the corridor and provide a total of four non-tolled general purpose lanes in each direction continuously between MoPac and SH 45 North."
 
 

MaxConcrete

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The toll lanes which are planned for this project are now under review because the available funding (propositions 1 and 7) is prohibited from being used on toll roads.

My preference is to see the non-toll improvements including the fourth lane each way move forward in the near future, and wait for funding to build the currently-planned toll lanes as free express or HOV lanes.

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/transportation/txdot-reconsiders-plan-for-183-toll-lanes/gG2Nvuf1o1INUJ44tsVuXN/
Quote
The U.S. 183 North toll project, which aims to add two toll lanes to each side of the highway north of MoPac Boulevard, has been thrown into flux and potentially delayed — part of the collateral damage from growing anti-toll sentiment among the state’s leaders.

Officials said some alternatives are being examined, such as building the 8-mile expansion project with no tolls, adding only segments of free lanes or perhaps creating high-occupancy-vehicle lanes.

These talks come just weeks before authorities had planned to start lining up a contractor to do the final design and construction.

Texas Department of Transportation officials Thursday downplayed the evolving situation with the project, which comes at the end of five years of planning and a $7.5 million environmental study completed in April 2016 that concluded toll lanes were the best option. In March, the Texas Transportation Commission, which governs TxDOT, voted to include $120 million for the project in the agency’s 10-year plan.

MaxConcrete

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http://www.statesman.com/news/183-north-expansion-project-move-forward-txdot-decides/oLt6U6bEqYtTqzmR3hkktL/

The Texas Transportation Commission approved a $500 plan for this project

* The extra untolled lanes are included in the project, to provide continuous four free lanes in each direction
* The originally planned new connectors to RM 620 are not included, to save $150 million
* The Central Texas toll agency will build the toll lanes
* Configuration will be F-4-2T-2T-4-F  (F=frontage)
* According to the DEIS, design standards will be compromised with no interior shoulders (not on main lanes or toll lanes), narrow buffer, and 11-ft-wide lanes.
http://www.183north.com/2016.04.20_183_North_Mobility_Project_Final%20EA_Reduced.pdf
* Construction is slated to begin in early 2019

I suppose that desperate times call for desperate measures, but I become very annoyed by the frequent compromising of standards for TxDOT projects, such as I-35E in North Texas, US 290 in Houston and this project.


Quote
The Texas Transportation Commission Thursday approved a deal with the Central Texas Regional Mobility to build the 9-mile, $500 million project between MoPac Boulevard and Texas 45 North. Under the deal, TxDOT would oversee the work, awarding a “design-build” contract next fallto build two toll lanes in each direction and, in several places, add a fourth free lane to either the southbound or northbound side of U.S. 183.

The toll lanes would be in the highway’s broad center median, currently walled off by concrete barriers from the existing lanes. The project would include adding toll flyover bridges at the south end from MoPac’s newly opened toll lanes to the U.S. 183 toll lanes to come.

The project no longer includes one element: flyover bridges at the north end connecting U.S. 183 to RM 620 to the west. That lowered what had been a $650 million cost estimate to the $500 million now contemplated.

The project seemed to be in trouble this summer because of concerns over mixing TxDOT tax dollars with borrowed money from the mobility authority, particularly because of Texas Constitutional amendments passed in 2014 and 2015 that stipulate that some of TxDOT’s funds cannot be spent on toll projects. But TxDOT and the mobility authority worked out an unusual arrangement for the deal, one that passed muster with the commission.

TxDOT will provide $120 million, money that in theory will construct the added free lanes, along with bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the frontage roads. There would an added southbound lane between Lake Creek Parkway and near Texas 45 North, and from north of McNeil Road to Loop 1. Northbound, a lane would be added between Braker Lane and Spicewood Springs Road.

The mobility authority would kick in $380 million in borrowed money. About $240 million would come from a bond sale, authority executive director Mike Heiligenstein said. And the agency hopes to get another $140 million from a U.S. Department of Transportation loan program, one that the agency has borrowed from on previous toll projects.

If the timetable holds up, construction likely would begin in early 2019.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 11:54:11 PM by MaxConcrete »
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Chris

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Inner (left) shoulders seem to be a North American thing. Inner shoulders are pretty rare outside of the U.S., it is usually limited to a 3-5 ft recovery strip, if there even is one. I think it's better to have that much-needed additional capacity than a left shoulder at all times.

longhorn

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So this is about adding some toll lanes in the open median on 183 from Mopac to 45. The present three free lanes each way will stay, and traffic will still stink. Will the toll lanes be two lanes or one in each direction?
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Chris

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Per MaxConcrete: 'Configuration will be F-4-2T-2T-4-F  (F=frontage)'

So a frontage road, 4 lanes and 2 tolled express lanes each way.

DJStephens

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Re: Austin 183 North expansion study: No surprise, TxDOT recommends toll lanes
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2017, 08:42:10 PM »

[quote
* The extra untolled lanes are included in the project, to provide continuous four free lanes in each direction
* The originally planned new connectors to RM 620 are not included, to save $150 million
* The Central Texas toll agency will build the toll lanes
* Configuration will be F-4-2T-2T-4-F  (F=frontage)
* According to the DEIS, design standards will be compromised with no interior shoulders
* Construction is slated to begin in early 2019

I suppose that desperate times call for desperate measures, but I become very annoyed by the frequent compromising of standards for TxDOT projects, such as I-35E in North Texas, US 290 in Houston and this project.]

Lowering of standards?  El Paso County in the last twenty years.   It is clearly apparent.   
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 12:40:10 PM by DJStephens »
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Austin 183 North expansion study: No surprise, TxDOT recommends toll lanes
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2019, 12:00:48 AM »

http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot/commission/2019/0131/6-presentation.pdf

On Thursday the TxDOT commission approved a resolution which authorizes the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (which is the toll road agency) to build the four tolled lanes on SH 183.

TxDOT is avoiding the use of any Proposition 1 or Proposition 7 funds (which can't be used on toll projects) by using an accounting gimmick in which all the public funds used on the project are federal funds.

The estimated project cost is $500.4M as follows:
CTRMA: Four toll lanes: $396.2M (79.2%)
TxDOT: Addition of fourth general purpose lane in each direction where existing facility lacks fourth lane:  $104.2M (20.8%)

This is slated to be a design-build project, and like other TxDOT design-build projects, it will take a long time to more forward. The lengthy project implementation is surprising because toll agencies usually get projects done quickly so they can get the toll revenue flowing.

CTRMA issues draft Request for Proposals: August 2019
CTRMA approves conditional award: May 2020
Contract execution: Sept.2020
Construction substantial completion: Spring 2024

longhorn

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Re: Austin 183 North expansion study: No surprise, TxDOT recommends toll lanes
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2019, 09:24:28 AM »

There is space in the median for this, and I am glad they are adding a free fourth lane in each direction. A shame they can't the same for I-35 which needs a couple of extra lanes up to Round Rock.

I remember when 183 was a Boulevard and one could get from the Cedar Park to I-35 in 20 minutes because all of the lights were timed. The 183 reconstruction project in the 90s were one of those rare cases of Tx Dot getting ahead of the traffic problem. Could you imagine 183 as a three lane boulevard today?
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Bobby5280

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Re: Austin 183 North expansion study: No surprise, TxDOT recommends toll lanes
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2019, 02:52:34 PM »

Spring 2024? It's a shame they can't get it (and other road expansion projects in the Austin area) done faster. The metro Austin area, including the zone between Austin and San Antonio, is among the fastest growing areas in the nation. Chances are good Austin's city limits population may pass the 1 million mark in time for the 2020 census.
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