Transportation
6:27 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Express (Toll) Lanes Coming to State Highway 71

Change is on the way for a stretch of State Highway 71 in Southeast Austin.

The Texas Department of Transportation is moving ahead with plans to build tolled express lanes from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport east to the SH 130 toll road.

The project was announced Thursday by TxDOT, the Texas Transportation Commission and State Sen. Kirk Watson.

Once it’s done, it could mean less congestion on 71, both for people paying the tolls on the new lanes to be built between and above the existing lanes and for drivers staying on the free frontage lanes.

According to the announcement, the project paid for in part through the SH 130 Concession Agreement will result in new lanes in each direction and managed lanes without traffic signals.

"Using private dollars to fund a large portion of the construction gives us the opportunity to dramatically advance this project from a long-term unfunded vision to a reality," Texas Transportation Commission chairman said in a statement. "Partnering with Central Texas transportation authorities and Senator Watson will mean a commute to and from the Austin airport without the headaches that drivers currently experience."

Construction of the Highway 71 project could start as soon as the end of 2014.