AUSTIN (KXAN) — As of Monday, heavy vehicles and buses are only allowed to use the right lane when traveling eastbound across the Barton Springs Road bridge, city officials said in a memo.
The decision followed an inspection and recommendation made by the city’s bridge consultant, AECOM Engineering. AECOM suggested it “as a pre-emptive measure to extend the life of the bridge and delay or avoid more significant measures like load posting (i.e., limiting the weight of vehicles crossing the bridge),” per the memo.
Westbound traffic will continue as normal under the current lane configuration, city officials added.
The bridge was first built in 1925 before it was later expanded in 1945. City officials said it undergoes biennial inspections via the Texas Department of Transportation and was most recently reviewed in 2022, when it earned a “satisfactory” overall rating.
AECOM’s assessment did note the advanced age of the bridge along with the “continuing decline in the bridge’s arch ribs,” adding relegating heavier traffic to the right eastbound lane will help slow down the rate of deterioration before the bridge is replaced.
The City of Austin’s Transportation and Public Works Department is working with an engineering consulting firm to help create a plan to reinforce those arch ribs “in hopes of removing the requirement for eastbound heavy vehicles to use the right lane.” A work plan is expected by the end of the month, TPWD staff noted.
The city is in the preliminary design phase of work on the Barton Springs Bridge, funded as part of Austin’s 2020 bond. Replacing the bridge is expected to cost roughly $30 million to $40 million, per the memo.
Funds have not yet been identified for construction, and staff are working to find funding sources to support those efforts.