Austin TX area 183A opens 5 mile extension north, now near 10 miles tolled
By Peter Samuel
The Austin Texas Mobility Authority opened a five mile, 8km extension of its TX183A tollroad today (Friday April 6). The extension in the Leander area to the northwest of central Austin involved $105 million construction of a 2x3 lane tolled expressway in a wide median reservation between untolled frontage road lanes that intersect with cross roads at grade. The tollroad opened today was from Ranch Rd FM 1431 to Leander Rd RR2243 extending tolls into Williamson County. The tollroad is operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), an instrumentality of local governments in the area which goes by the abbreviated name Mobility Authority.
In the first stage opened in March 2007 there were 4.1 miles of 2x3 lane toll expressway from TxDOT's east-west TX45N tollroad to FM1431 Ranch Road in Cedar Park. The first stage also built 7.5 miles further with the widely spaced frontage roads making provision for the tolled roadways to be extended to Leander Road RR2243 and beyond to a merge with the TX183 surface arterial.
The tollroad proper is just under 10 miles, 16km. (CORRECTION) The remaining 2.7 mile, 4.2km of frontage roads connecting in to the old 'A-less' TX183 is likely to remain without a tolled portion for the forseable future but TxDOT is making improvements to the merge of the 183 and the 183A at the northern end of the 11.3 miles, 18.2km project.
Construction of the extension began March 2010.
At an opening ceremony today Texas Congressman John R Carter: "People need greater mobility, and we're working hard to make sure they get it. By reducing federal red tape and empowering local communities to take part in how their federal transportation funds are allocated, we're letting local communities take charge of their own destinies. The 183A Northern Extension is an impressive example of this model."
Ray Wilkerson, Mobility Authority chairman: "The 183A Northern Extension project is a great example of how our region's investment in toll roads is paying big dividends, both in terms of mobility and investment in our community. This project has been a major catalyst for development in the area. Given the difficult economic times we've just been through, the prospect of growth along 183A is exciting."
Traffic ahead of forecast early
TX183A has been a successful tollroad, in its first several years of operation somewhat exceeding the traffic and revenue forecasts (by Stantec) in the planning stages, encouraging the extension to be advanced by several years from original plans. A number of the intersecting surface roads are being upgraded as more effective feeders to the extended tollroad.
Weekday traffic of 35k vehicles a day have been reached at the busiest southern segment and about 26k at the northern end. Frontage roadways have been running 14k/day at the north end and as much as 32k at the southern end. Total traffic on the TX183 arterial at the north end are about 21k.
Before the opening of the first stage of the tollroad traffic on the TX183 surface arterial was running around 58k/day. The tollroad quickly (by 2008) got 28k and the arterial lost about 18k, so an additional 10k of traffic was induced by the improvement in mobility. 2009 saw average volumes on the tollroad rise to 30k and the arterial decline to about 38k. There has been arterial growth since and slight increases in toll traffic.
4 minutes on pike, 12 minutes on surface road
Time savings are substantial - 8 minutes.
The tollroad is about 4 minutes for the 4.1 miles - posted speed is 70mph - versus 12 minutes on the TX183 from TX45N to FM1431.
Traffic on stage 1 of the 183A is running at around $23m/year. It seems likely to rise to over $30m with the opening of the new stage.
183A is a cashless or all-electronic toll road. Customers can pay their tolls with any Texas electronic toll tag (ISO18000 6B variant from Transcore) brands TxTag , TollTag (Dallas area) or EZ TAG (Houston area).
If they drive the 183A without such a Texas transponder they are billed by license plate imaging and they Pay By Mail.
Pay By Mail customers are charged higher toll rate than TxTag customers plus a $1.00 processing charge per bill.
About 75% presently use a tag to 25% who pay by mail.
As part of the opening of the 183A Northern Extension, toll rates are being adjusted along the whole 183A corridor.
TxTag customers will pay $2.80 to drive the entire length of 183A from Lakeline Boulevard to north of RM 2243. Tolls for TxTag customers using the original portion of 183A are being dropped from $2.00 to $1.85.
TxTag rates at the Park Street Main Plaza will decrease from $1.55 to $1.35 and at the Lakeline Mainline Plaza increase from $0.45 to $0.50.
Rates at the Brushy Creek Ramps increase from $.45 to $0.54.
Also multi-axle toll rates are being reinstated at the Brushy Creek Ramps and a discount program for four axle trucks is being dropped.
CTRMA's second toll project the Manor Expressway US290 is under construction in Travis County the eastern portion of the Austin area. It's a 6.2 mile 2x3 lanes project costing about $430m. Started in March 2010 it is due to open in stages between the end of 2012 and 2014.
traffic surveys & travel times