Officials unveil plans for Bergstrom Expressway

Officials unveil plans for Bergstrom Expressway

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The red lights along US 183 east of Austin test the patience of drivers daily.

A solution is in the works. On Tuesday the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority unveiled plans for a six lane toll road called the Bergstrom Expressway at an open house.

It would stretch from US 290 to Highway 71. The existing 183 would become the frontage roads.

For a few bucks, drivers could bypass all of the annoying lights along US 183.

"I'd pay it," said one driver.

"It's worth it to me not to sit and wait," said another driver.

Some drivers think convenience should be free.

"To pay again, a toll road when you already paid to build this road is ludicrous," said one Austin driver. "That's double taxation."

Plans for making major improvements to the roadway have been tossed around since 1985. Small changes have been made along the way. For instance pylons have been constructed over the Colorado River. Pigeons are using them now, but one day they may support that Bergstrom Expressway.

The price tag for the new 183 is $700-800 million. The funding does not currently exist. One option is a public-private partnership.

"We would lease the project to a private company. They would pay to build it. They would have the right to operate it and collect a share of the tolls for a period of time. But the state would always retain ownership of the facility," said Steve Pustelnyk of Central Texas Mobility Authority.

The completion date is 2020, but Pustelnyk says drivers may be able to speed that up.

"If the public comes out to these open houses and says we're tired of waiting we want this thing built, that helps us move it along," he said.

The Central Texas Authority will hold several public meetings or comment at the Bergstrom Expressway website.

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