TX/US290 Manor Expressway to build following successful bond sale
By Peter Samuel
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (RMA) are selling $376m in toll revenue bonds to allow a start on work this summer on the Manor Expressway (US290) in the east part of the Austin metro area. 6.2 miles, 10km long it will consist of a 2x3 toll expressway lanes in the wide median of an existing 2x2 lanes surface road.
Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein is quoted: "Our bond sale has been extremely well received. The incredible response from investors is indicative of the strength of our local economy, the tremendous potential for future growth in our region as well as investor confidence in the Mobility Authority itself."
Financial close is set for June 29.
Project cost of the US290 Manor Expressway is around $600m and it should be open for traffic in 2014. A first phase involving an interchange at the western end with high level TX183 to US290-east direct ramps and the beginning of the pike just to the east started construction last year.
Capacity being tripled
The toll expressway is being built along the right of way of a 2x2 lanes surface arterial. Capacity is being tripled to 12 lanes, reconstructing both frontage roads to become 2x3 lanes untolled frontage roadways to the new toll express roadways, also 2x3 lanes.
Between entering and departing slip lanes or ramps leftside the frontage roads have an auxiliary lane making the format 4/3/3/4 in these stretches. They also have a rightside lane of 14ft, 4.3m to accommodate bicycles. And there are sidewalks for pedestrians.
All other lanes are 12ft, 3.65m wide.
The central expressway roadways each have 56ft, 17.1m width of pavement to allow 10ft, 3m shoulders each side of the three travel lanes.
There is a central 26ft, 7.9m grassed median left for a possible 4th lane or some other mode. Also typically a 55ft, 16.8m wide grassed area between the express lanes roadways and the frontage roadways.
The 3/3/3/3 travel lanes format with the inner pair of roadways tolled and free flow and the outer roadways untolled and signalized is a very common one on Texas highway upgrades.
The overall right of way is 415ft, 126m wide.
Slip lanes or ramps between the toll and frontage roads provide access and egress except at the western end where there is a multi-level directional interchange whih includes four direct connectors with the existing TX183, and at TX130 a TxD0T tollroad that provides an eastern alternate to I-35. There is a single high level direct connector existing for the eastbound to northbound movement with provisions for others to be added later.
By our count the Manor Expressway will have seven overpasses of local streets, each of which provides for turns off the expressway plus U-turns at some of the 4-phase signalized intersections. We count eight pairs of slip ramps between the toll expressways roadways and the frontage roadways.
6.5 miles out
The US290 tollroad starts 6.5 miles, 10.5km northeast of downtown Austin up I-35 and along a 2 mile, 3.2km stretch of US290 to the US183, crosses the TX130 tollroad, and ends for now 12.1 miles, 19.5km from Austin at Parmer Lane on the outskirts of Manor.
A small once self-contained settlement Manor is now surrounded by new developments, both residential and commercial. The Manor Expressway will provide a quality link for these new eastern communities.
US290 is also the most direct route (155 miles, 250km) between Austin and Houston, Texas' second largest metro area. Only about a third of the route (from Hempstead east) between Houston and the state capital is full expressway standard, although the rest is a reasonably high standard 2+2 lane rural arterial with fair access control and scattered grade separations in the some of the settlements along the route.
Justification for the project is described as a doubling of traffic in the past 25 years and another expected doubling in the next 20 years (by 2031.)
The TxDOT Environmental Assessment: "The proposed facility would improve safety, mobility and accessibility in and around the study area, and provide the transportation infrastructure necessary to support local public policies that encourage growth east of IH 35. The purpose of the proposed US 290 improvements is to effectively and expeditiously respond to increased transportation demand while enhancing mobility and improving safety within the US 290 corridor."
Houston to the state capital
US290 is described as a major truck route for supplies coming into the Austin area from the port and distribution facilities of Houston, and a hurricane evacuation route for Houston.
Traffic on the portion of US290 being widened and tolled with the Manor Expressway currently ranges between 38k and 72k average daily vehicles. By 2031 traffic is estimated to be in the range 84k to 124k. The road is not yet congested but the widening is designed to cater to increased traffic without congestion developing in the future.
The central tolled lanes are designed for a posted 70mph speed and the frontage roadways for 45mph. The higher maximum speed of the expressway lanes plus the signals makes travel times in the untolled lanes around twice as long.
Tolling is a mix of transponder reads and license plate imaging by cameras mounted on gantries over the mainline and over certain slip lane ramps. This will be the second tollroad of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), the first being the 183A on the northside. It will be the fifth tollroad in the Austin TX area, counting three Texas DOT tollroads - the Mopac Loop-1, TX45, and TX130.
A southern extension of the 130 to the I-10 near Seguin is under construction in a toll concession to the investor-owned toller Cintra. And the TX183A is being extended to the north by CTRMA. Other smaller toll projects are planned - including toll lanes on Mopac Loop-1, the Bergstrom Expressway, Manchaca Expressway and Oak Hill Expressway. The latter are mostly upgrades of surface arterials like the Manor Expressway project.
No cash is collected on any of the CTRMA pikes - they are all all-electronic tolling (AET).
Prime contractors for the Manor project are Webber LLC and Texas Sterling Construction.
Telvent will provide the toll systems for CTRMA.
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority:
TxDOT tollroads in Austin:
EDITORIAL NOTE: we depart from local naming practice by sticking to the general American form of I-35 for Interstate 35 rather than the peculiarly Texan IH-35. And they use SH as in SH130 for State Highway 130 in Texas whereas it's our practice to use the two-letter state code. So for us it is TX130.
Readers have to put up with a form ingrained early in our writing which avoids the collective singular for the logical form "Telvent are doing the toll system..." though we do occasionally lapse into the more common but ridiculous "Telvent is doing..."
CTRMA and its consultants call the slip lanes between frontage and expressway roadways 'ramps' but we think that term should be kept for the rightside connectors that slope upwards or downwards to make a grade separation.
You will never see a 'Mr.' or a 'Sir' or an 'Hon.' in TOLLROADSnews except in sarcasm. And unlike the New York Times we don't see any purpose in the stops in C.I.A., B.P., U.N. or U.S. - editor.