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Author Topic: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360  (Read 3467 times)

MaxConcrete

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Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« on: November 01, 2016, 11:35:46 PM »

The recommended approach appears to remove all traffic lights by adding overpasses and add one lane in each direction, but not add frontage roads. So this could be a so-called "superstreet" or "New Jersey freeway" (not sure if that term is suitable), a freeway-type facility without access control. This would be similar to US 90 (South Main) in Houston. But nothing is going to happen anytime soon. I lived along Loop 360 near 2222 for six years in the late 1990s into the early 2000s. and traffic was definitely horrible during the high-tech boom.

The cost is very affordable, only $337 million. I think this is a suitable solution for the corridor, even though traffic congestion will still probably exist if/when the project ever gets done.

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local/txdot-report-foresees-overpasses-added-lanes-for-l/ns2d2/

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2016/11/01/more-lanes-overpasses-suggested-to-improve-capital.html


Quote
Loop 360’s grinding congestion would be best addressed by building overpasses at most of its 20 traffic signals and by adding a lane to each side, according to a two-year Texas Department of Transportation study of the highway released Wednesday.

That recommended plan, which the study says could take up to 20 years to fund and build, should also include flyover bridges connecting Loop 360 to MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) at the south end and to U.S. 183 at the north end, TxDOT concluded in the 51-page report. The report says there is room to add a lane in each direction to the Pennybacker Bridge over Lake Austin, but officials would have to add a companion bridge alongside to handle bike and pedestrian traffic that now uses the main bridge.

The estimated cost for the entire project would be $337 million in 2016 dollars, the report says, or $385 million if the two added lanes are tolled.

In_Correct

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2016, 02:20:40 PM »

I hope they provide room for frontage roads to be added later.
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TXtoNJ

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2016, 02:48:21 PM »

I hope they provide room for frontage roads to be added later.

I doubt this will ever happen, nor does it need to - frontage will be maintained with the superstreet/NJ freeway setup. You can be certain that the plans as quoted will be fought tooth and nail to begin with, leading to many relatively unusual solutions for Texas, such as SPUIs and underpasses, to minimize the visual impact of the infrastructure, and keep footprints as small as possible.
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In_Correct

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2016, 03:41:06 PM »

I don't know Austin. And can somebody explain in very simple terms because I don't know the difference between an overpass, underpass, and flyover?  :confused:

Is it (the highway) going to be dug like a trench similar to El Paso, or is it a very large bridge going over everything similar to Wichita Falls?
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2016, 07:31:10 PM »

I don't know Austin. And can somebody explain in very simple terms because I don't know the difference between an overpass, underpass, and flyover?  :confused:

Is it (the highway) going to be dug like a trench similar to El Paso, or is it a very large bridge going over everything similar to Wichita Falls?

You would need to reference the study report to get those details, and I don't see the report on the TxDOT or Campo sites (but I did not google for it). I'm thinking most grade separations would take the Loop 360 lanes above grade level to go over cross streets, but some intersections may warrant an underpass.

In_Correct

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2016, 05:38:38 AM »

But citizens of Austin will protest those plans with a bridge and would want the highway trenched so "they don't have to look at it."? Is that why they are going to be Tooth And Nail?
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US 81

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2016, 09:08:29 AM »

But citizens of Austin will protest those plans with a bridge and would want the highway trenched so "they don't have to look at it."? Is that why they are going to be Tooth And Nail?

Hmm....maybe. Loop 360 runs on the west side of the city, where there is more affluence and (I would guess) probably a higher concentration of the "I don't want to have to look at a freeway" types. However, the highway as it currently exists, with several grade-separated interchanges but a preponderance of at-grade traffic lights and RIROs, has a few scenic overlooks and gets touted as a scenic highway. Trenching a "scenic highway" does not seem like a great plan....
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SquonkHunter

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2016, 07:48:42 PM »

I just drove this road today. The median is fairly wide so adding another lane each way would not be too big a problem. The Pennybacker Bridge over Lake Austin is another story however. If it was re-striped for three lanes each way, the lanes would be extremely narrow. I just can't see it working. But then, Austin is wanting to eliminate the continuous left turn lane on several major arterial streets and add more bike lanes. I am so thankful I only work in the city and not live there.    :banghead:
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Marc

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2017, 12:13:23 AM »

This would be amazing if it happened—and it NEEDS to—but I'm not getting my hopes up. If they were to do this, they'd likely need a flyover to north 183 on the northern end and some intersection improvements with Mopac on the southern end.
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ski-man

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2017, 01:29:35 AM »

I'm sure any improvements will be tolled............... :pan:
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longhorn

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2017, 07:06:34 PM »

As bad as this needs to happen it will not. You have to understand the area, the rich NIMBYS in west Austin will have none of this. Just look at the mess they caused for the Mopac expansion, or non expansion.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2017, 09:06:36 PM »

Surprise, surprise. And definitely a good surprise. This project received $204 million from the Texas Transportation Commission yesterday, enough funding to build all the planned overpasses from Westlake Road northward. There is no mention of adding an additional lane in each direction (which is part of the design recommended in the official report), so I'm assuming the extra lane is not included in this phase.

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2017/03/29/austin-highways-get-major-chunk-of-billions-in.html

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/local/txdot-windfall-includes-620-million-for-four-austin-highways/Y8EYWvZOzw2Bp3AY8S8CLL/

Quote
[The] Austin projects include $204 million in state funds to build several overpasses along Loop 360 from Westlake Drive north, allowing motorists to bypass traffic lights. That project, not likely to begin for at least two years, will be augmented by $46 million from the city of Austin, as part of the transportation bond that city voters approved in November.

The official recommendation for improvements was released in October 2016. It does not include any schematics or details about the design at specific locations.

https://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/aus/sl_360/final-report.pdf
« Last Edit: March 29, 2017, 09:22:21 PM by MaxConcrete »
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2017, 03:25:03 PM »

TxDOT is soliciting a General Engineering Consultant for the project, see the project documents for item 0000003220
http://www.txdot.gov/business/consultants/architectural-engineering-surveying/advertised-contracts.html
Schematics are included in the documents link.

As always, improvements in Austin are too little, too late. This confirms that option 4 in the design report is being pursued. Option 4 eliminates all at-grade intersections but does not add a continuous third lane in each direction. I was hoping option 5 (adding the third lane in each direction) would move forward or option 4C (option 4 with improved connections), but it appears that won't happen.
Design report with options: https://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/aus/sl_360/final-report.pdf

Observations:
* Signalized intersections remain at both US 183 on the north end and Loop 1 on the south end. We can expect traffic to become worse at these intersections
* The existing pavement is retained except at the locations of new overpasses
* Seven overpasses are being added (starting at north): Spicewood Springs, Lakewood, Courtyard (where I lived for 6 years), Westlake, Lost Creek, Scottish Woods, and Walsh Tarlton.
* All crossovers are closed, and some existing intersections are closed with no overpass, including Arboretum, Great Hills Trail, Cedar, Pascal, Las Cimas, Parkstone Heights, and Stoneridge
* This results in some long sections with no overpass/turnaround, including 3 miles from Westlake to RM 2244.
* The existing overpass intersections at 2222 and 2244 are coverted into diverging diamond designs
* The southbound offramp to Courtyard (just south of 2222) appears to have poor geometrics
* The Lake Austin bridge is unaffected, although it appears the southbound side may be restriped to three lanes.
* There is a section with frontage roads on the south end between Scottish Woods and Lost Creek

I lived just off Loop 360 along Courtyard from 1997 to 2003, and traffic was horrible back then. So this is long overdue. In Austin, you have to take what you can get, even if it is inadequate or substandard. The good news is that the solicitation for the General Engineering Consultant probably means that this project is being readied for construction.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2017, 03:28:30 PM by MaxConcrete »
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djlynch

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Re: Austin: Study recommends improvements for Loop 360
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2017, 01:13:27 PM »

Considering how badly the left turns into and out of the shopping center just south of Bee Caves Road tend to back up with high-dollar vehicles at lunch hour as all the rich kids from Westlake High School and tech employees in the area empty out and head for the biggest cluster of restaurants anywhere along 360, hearing the howls of protest when that closes is going to be interesting.
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