BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation is working to upgrade sections of State Highway 71 in Bastrop from Perkins Street to Martin Luther King Drive.
TxDOT will replace or construct nine new bridges along the corridor and crews will extend frontage roads along the highway allowing commuters to get across the Colorado River without having to jump on the main lanes.
“If we have the frontage road it’d be better for us, but it would be more noise for us down here,” Dorothy Perkins said. The Bastrop County native lives near the highway and described getting on the highway as “chaotic.”
Smithville resident, Blake Brown agreed.
“Just trying to get on as best I can without trying to get hit.”
Both Perkins and Brown are hopeful the changes TxDOT is working on will ease traffic.
During the first year, TxDOT expects all traffic to remain in its current pattern. However, the work on Highway 71 will be done in phases, with Phase 1 kicking off in August. TxDOT expects there to be some traffic changes as work progresses.
Tuesday night, TxDOT officials will host a public forum to meet with community members at the Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to discuss the future changes.
Breakdown of SH 71’s Phasing:
- Phase 1
- Stage 1: Construction of frontage road and bridges over the Colorado River, reconstruct U-turns at Gills Branch and westbound frontage road from east U-turn at Gills Branch to MLK Drive.
- Stage 2: Crews continue to work on westbound and eastbound frontage roads, construct the eastbound frontage road bridge and eastbound entrance ramp bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad. This stage will make traffic one-way on frontage roads with one lane open in each direction.
- Stage 3: Complete majority of work on frontage roads, construct new westbound entrance ramp west of the Colorado River.
- Stage 4: Construct a new eastbound exit ramp west of the Colorado River.
- Phase 2
- Stage 1: Construct new Colorado River Bridge — eastbound main lane traffic will be diverted to the frontage road.
- Stage 2: Westbound main lanes shifted to eastbound main lanes (eastbound still on frontage) construct the westbound main lanes.
- Stage 3: Construct southern portion of the westbound frontage road bridge over Gills Branch.