Austin
3:41 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Could Bergstrom Expressway Be Cure-All for Airport Congestion?

A new expressway between US Highway 183 and Ben White Boulevard could “eliminate” traffic between the two congested roadways.

But it’ll cost you.  

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) hopes to complete the “Bergstrom Expressway” by 2020 – complete with a six-lane toll road, quicker access to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and shared-use paths for walkers and cyclists. But before the transit agency puts work boots on the ground, they want your opinion.

The CTRMA is asking residents to join engineers, architects, and designers to discuss the expressway’s future impact on the area.

Authority spokesperson Steve Pustelnyk says the expressway doesn’t necessarily have to be a toll road, but because of indefinite funding and a possible public-private investment option, it’ll most likely cost Austin drivers.

However, Pustelnyk did say that the road would clear up congestion in the area for commuters, residents, and airport visitors.

“If this project is built as planned, it would completely eliminate congestion in the corridor. It will be a major improvement,” Pustelnyk says.

Currently the road has four lanes, but the expansion would bring the total to six lanes and a pair of two-lane frontage roads that would require no toll.

The possible expressway would feature up to 6 toll lanes (blue) and a pair of two-lane frontage roads without any toll.
Credit Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

“Obviously, over time, congestion might come back in the next 30 or 40 years. But, for the foreseeable future, this project will have a dramatic improvement on mobility in that corridor,” Pustelnyk  says.

The process for the traffic cure-all has moved at a snail’s pace, however. CTRMA and the Texas Department of Transportation have been studying the environmental impact of the possible roadway since 2011 – studying not just environmental impact, but also the residential and construction impact on the area.

Pustelnyk says the CTRMA has yet to secure funding for the project. The City of Austin and TxDoT could provide some up-front money, but not enough to fund the entire endeavor.

“We will have to borrow money in some form to finance the project,” Pustelnyk says. “We just don’t have the money available from current sources of transportation taxes to fund the project.”

Pustelnyk added that the expressway will have at least one shared-use lane that will allow both pedestrians and cyclists access to the expressway. Currently, only one is slated for the expressway on the northbound route, but both will feature walkways.

The CTRMA meeting will take place tomorrow at East Austin College Prep on East MLK Boulevard from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.