AUSTIN (KVUE) - Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the first roundabout at a major intersection in the city of Austin.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler joined engineers with Texas Department of Transportation, as well as state Sen. Kirk Watson, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board members and others to shovel the first few scoops of the ceremonial dirt.
The groundbreaking, although held at Interstate 35 and 51st Street, was actually for two projects.
The first will turn the west intersection of I-35 at 51st into a roundabout. TxDOT says that part of the interstate is the second-most congested stretch of road in the entire state. Engineers hope to shave four minutes off the time drivers spend at that intersection. The overall vision also calls for a reconfiguring of entrance and exit ramps, the addition of an intersection bypass lane and realignment of the southbound frontage road. There will also be wider, dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes along the roundabout.
Construction however, won't begin until November. The $16.5 million project has a completion target date of early 2019; funding will come from TxDOT's Congestion Relief Initiative, as well as the city of Austin.
The second project is at I-35 and Oltorf. The overpass there will be reconstructed. In addition, frontage roads and entrance/exit ramps will be revamped, U-turn lanes will be added both ways and walk and bike paths will be improved, according to TxDOT's plans.
Although not set in stone, TxDOT hopes to begin construction on this project by December and complete it by spring 2019. That project comes with a $42.6 million price tag; it's also being funded through TxDOT's Congestion Relief Initiative.