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3300 N IH-35, Suite 300
Austin, TX 78705
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FAQs

CTRMA Bergstrom Expressway

About the Bergstrom Expressway

What problem is the Bergstrom Expressway addressing?

US 183 South from US 290 to SH 71 attracts more than 60,000 cars and trucks a day and serves as the primary route to and from the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. But in recent years, the corridor has looked more like a parking lot, and finding a mobility solution hasn’t been easy. As traffic congestion has increased, adjacent neighborhoods have become increasingly affected by traffic, and travel time to the airport has become unpredictable.

In July 2004, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) first proposed improvements for the corridor, adding the project to the region’s Long Range Transportation Plan.

Who is addressing the problems on the Bergstrom Expressway?

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (Mobility Authority) is working in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to construct, operate, and maintain the Bergstrom Expressway.

The Mobility Authority is an independent government agency created in 2002 to improve the transportation system in Williamson and Travis counties. Their mission is to implement innovative, multi-modal transportation solutions that reduce congestion and create transportation choices that enhance quality of life and economic vitality.

Learn more about the Mobility Authority here.

What is the Bergstrom Expressway?

The Bergstrom Expressway is a combined effort by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, TxDOT, the City of Austin, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), Capital Metro and other local experts to address traffic congestion in the US 183 South corridor from US 290 to SH 71. This included an environmental study conducted by TxDOT and the Mobility Authority to evaluate the alternatives and identify a preferred solution.

The Bergstrom Expressway will include:

  • Three new toll lanes and three improved non-tolled general purpose lanes in each direction
  • New bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and shared use paths for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Landscaping and aesthetics improvements along the corridor
  • Increased mobility and safety for neighbors and regional travelers

What is the preferred alternative, or what is going to be built?

Several different alternatives were evaluated as part of the Bergstrom Expressway. They included:

  • No Build: Proposed improvements to 183 South would not be constructed; assumes all other projects in the CAMPO Plan would be constructed.
  • Full Build: Six tolled main lanes and four to six general purpose lanes

The full build alternative was selected as the preferred alternative in the fall of 2014 and was approved in March 2015.

The preferred alternative was selected based on how well it meets the purpose and need for the proposed US 183 South improvements and for how it affects the environment. TxDOT and the Mobility Authority followed federal requirements in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before selecting a preferred alternative. The project team explored several different alternatives and analyzed the viability of each. Input from the public and local agencies was critical in deciding what, if any improvements, should be implemented.

The environmental review, consultation, and other actions required by applicable Federal environmental laws for this project were carried-out by TxDOT pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated December 16, 2014, and executed by FHWA and TxDOT.

Haven’t studies of this corridor already been conducted?

Yes. A Record of Decision (ROD) for this corridor was issued on October 28, 1985. Since then, continuous activity has taken place on the project as documented in subsequent Federal Environmental Impact Statements (FEIS) reevaluations. Four environmental reevaluations have been submitted and approved by the Federal Highway Administration since the original environmental clearance was issued in 1985. These reevaluations addressed design changes and documented that continuous activity was occurring, status of construction and land uses since the FEIS was signed. The reevaluations were approved by FHWA in 1992, 1998, 2000 and 2002

Why were changes made to the original roadway design schematic?

As a result of public input and additional engineering analysis, revisions were made in 2013 to the original roadway design that improves safety for drivers, improves bicycle and pedestrian facilities, reduces construction time, decreases construction costs and enhances roadway design. These changes make the project more financially feasible and easier to construct as well as provide amenities to the adjacent neighborhoods. For more info, click here.

Why are some of the crossover streets being removed?

The crossovers at Technicenter Drive, Bolm Road, 51st Street, and Vargas are being removed to improve safety and mobility at these locations.

With the removal of the crossovers, drivers will reach the opposite side of the new Bergstrom Expressway using non-signalized Texas Turnarounds at the remaining cross streets. Even with the changes, drivers should still be able to get to the opposite side of the new Bergstrom Expressway just as fast as they get across the existing US 183 today.

What is Context Sensitive Solutions?

The Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process undertaken by the Mobility Authority for the Bergstrom Expressway gave a multitude of stakeholders the opportunity to have their values and preferences incorporated into the design of the roadway project. Through an innovative, 16-month planning and public input process, the team aimed to fully understand how the community could interact in a positive manner with the new roadway, so that the project could be seen as a community asset.

Three concepts were presented to the community: Enhanced Landscape, Community Connections and Regional Identity. Feedback on these concepts was collected through online surveys, participation at open houses and at additional neighborhood and stakeholder meetings. As a result of public input, the Enhanced Landscape concept was preferred, but ideas from all three concepts were incorporated in to the final design. Thanks to all who participated in this process!

Why do you have to toll the new lanes?

The Bergstrom Expressway project is expected to cost approximately $680 million. Central Texas receives far less than that each year from the Federal and State gas tax to fund new projects.

State and federal fuel taxes are the primary funding source for roads and bridges in Texas. However, this funding source has remained static since 1991 even though fuel costs have risen. Because this is an incremental revenue source, decreases in consumer demand due to people driving less and/or driving more fuel efficient vehicles, will also affect revenue generation through the fuel tax. When you factor in the state’s significant population growth and demand on the roadway infrastructure, funding has not kept up with demand, and mobility is likely to continue to get worse. Because of this, innovative financing options are considered viable solutions to funding new projects.

It is important to note that only the new lanes will be tolled. The same number of taxpayer-funded, non-tolled travel lanes that are available today will remain. Drivers will have a choice whether to use the new Bergstrom Expressway or the adjacent non-tolled lanes.

As part of the overall project, we will be building bike and pedestrian facilities in the corridor, giving motorists and neighbors multi-modal options. Toll financing helps pay for these added improvements.

Who can ride toll-free on roads or lanes operated by the Mobility Authority?

On the toll roads operated by the Mobility Authority, the following can drive toll-free on the toll lanes:

  • Emergency responders
  • State and federal military vehicles
  • Public transit buses
  • Capital Metro registered carpools and vanpools
  • MetroAccess vehicles

Why can’t the recently approved Prop 1 Funding be used to fund the final design, construction, and operation of this project?

In November 2014, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment to provide billions more in reliable transportation funding, known as Proposition or Prop 1. The amendment authorizes annual disbursements from the state’s oil and gas production tax collections to the State Highway Fund.

These funds must be allocated to cities and counties throughout the state in accordance with existing formulas adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission. The funds can only be used for the construction, maintenance, rehabilitation, and acquiring right-of-way for public roads, but may not be used for toll roads.

For fiscal year 2015, Prop 1 will provide an estimated $1.7 billion for TxDOT’s use. Of that amount, the TxDOT Austin District, which is comprised of 11 counties including Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Gillespie, Hays, Lee, Llano, Mason, Travis and Williamson, expects to receive approximately $120 million in funds. The rest of the money is going elsewhere in the state.

The list of projects potentially funded by Prop 1 in our region can be found here.

The current estimated total project cost for the Bergstrom Expressway project is approximately $680 million. While helpful, what the Austin District is receiving through Prop 1 is nowhere near enough to cover the cost of building the Bergstrom Expressway.

Learn more about Prop 1 here.

What are you doing about the large oak trees on the corridor?

The community identified six large oak trees within the Bergstrom Expressway corridor valued by the community. Over a period of more than a year, the Mobility Authority collaborated with community stakeholders to develop an approach to try to maintain the health of these large oak trees. This effort will continue into the construction phase. It is our goal for these trees to continue to thrive in place.

You can download and read our Best Management Practices for large oak trees here.

How can I stay informed about the project and get involved in the process?

Community outreach is critical to the project development and project delivery process. Corridor residents, businesses, roadway users, local agencies, the general public and other interested parties can obtain information about the project in many ways, such as:

  • Visiting us online at BergstromExpressway.com
  • Contacting the study team using an electronic submission form on the website or by phone at 512-996-9778, and
  • Signing up for electronic newsletters

Team members are also available to meet with neighborhood associations, community groups and others to discuss the project. Feedback and input are encouraged and can be provided to the team in person at stakeholder meetings, online at BergstromExpressway.com or submitted in writing to: Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, C/O Bergstrom Expressway, 3300 North IH-35, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78705.

When the construction phase launches, the Mobility Authority will establish a robust construction communications program to update neighbours and the community about construction activities and any potential lane closures.