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Despite moratorium, CTRMA advances two toll projects

Thursday, May 31, 2018 by Caleb Pritchard

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is moving forward with two toll projects despite a significant roadblock put up by the Texas Transportation Commission last year.

On Wednesday, the CTRMA’s board of directors voted 6-0 to start the bidding process for three new flyovers at U.S. Highway 290 and State Highway 130 in East Austin. The authority will contribute up to $90 million for the project, while the Texas Department of Transportation will put in another $41 million.

The three new ramps will rise along the single existing flyover at the interchange, providing drivers the opportunity to bypass stoplights along the frontage roads. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year with a deadline to open by 2021.

“And that will finish the western half of this interchange,” CTRMA Director of Engineering Justin Word told the board. “So we’ll be done with half of it.”

The decision to move forward with the project is one of the CTRMA’s most significant actions since the Texas Transportation Commission last year shut the door on spending state tax money on toll projects. That decision doesn’t apply to the flyovers project since TxDOT’s contribution is coming from its own tolling revenue.

Additionally on Wednesday, the authority’s board voted to reaffirm its commitment to develop the 183A Phase III Project, which would extend the existing toll lanes on that roadway all the way up to State Highway 29 near Liberty Hill. Like the earlier vote, all six of the present members supported the resolution. Board Member David Armbrust was not at Wednesday’s meeting.

The resolution is similar to one passed last week by the Williamson County Commissioners Court. That document declared that the six-mile, four-lane project will “improve the quality of life and safety of Williamson County residents and the region.”

According to Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein, the authority can afford to build the entire $190 million project by itself, which could appease state officials.

“So we’re basically banking on TxDOT liberating us to pursue this project,” Board Member John Langmore asked.

“Yes sir,” Word told him. “And as far as prudence allows, we want to get as far down the road and be as prepared as we can be.”

Photo by Mapsax (CC BY 3.0), from Wikimedia Commons.

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