Eventually SH 71 won’t have traffic signals from Austin to Columbus


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Drivers traveling between Austin and Columbus will see big changes coming to State Highway 71, according to Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson Brad Wheelis.

“Eventually there will be no signals from Austin down to Columbus, which is where 71 meets with I-10,” Wheelis said.

Tuesday night, TxDOT will share its plans to help your commute on the stretch of a highway at a public meeting. 

John Chomout travels SH 71 daily and hopes the plans to build overpasses at Tucker Hill Lane and Pope Bend Road in front of Cedar Creek High School will help ease some traffic concerns.

“It’s a lot of stop and go because of the stop lights. It takes me probably an extra 15-20 minutes. I’m glad they’re thinking about putting overpasses in,” Chomout said. “If there wouldn’t be any lights, because this backs up, ya know, all these lights back up. You hit just about every one of them.”

The proposed overpasses would work to improve safety and to help traffic flow. TxDOT’s vision would be to build an overpass that would go right over the signal lights at these intersections.

The overpasses would be built on the main lanes of SH 71, while Tucker Hill and Pope Bend go under the bridge and do not interfere with cross traffic. New frontage roads and improved bicycle and pedestrian paths are also included in the project details. Wheelis says eliminating the lights will be safer for drivers too. 

“When you’re traveling at highway speeds and you bring that traffic to a halt with a red light, that increases the danger,” Wheelis said.

In all, we will see four new overpasses between Austin and Bastrop. Overpasses at Ross and Kellam Road in Del Valle are set to be built starting next year. 

Construction on the overpasses at Tucker Hill Lane and Pope Bend Road is expected to start in fall of 2020. Farm to Market 1209 will be the last signal to go in. People can head to Tuesday night’s public meeting and let TxDOT know what they think of the proposed changes for SH 71. The meeting will be held at Cedar Creek High School at 793 Union Chapel Road starting at 5:30 p.m. 

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