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"Super Streets" Debut In Austin

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:12 PM CDT

With rush hour looming, it was down to the wire overnight as crews fixed stoplights, repainted roads, and put up barricades, to debut the state's newest design to ease gridlock on one of Austin's most congested corridors.
 
"In the morning time it's like a 15, 20 minute delay," said Scott Johnson, a resident who lives nearby.
 
"Right now, State Highway 71 is the major route to get out of town or even into town," said Kelli Reyna, TxDOT spokesperson.

And exactly why TxDOT officials say the road between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Bastrop is the perfect place for the agency to roll out its newest short-term traffic solution: "super streets".

Here's how it works: if you want to make a left onto Highway 71 from FM 973 or go straight through, tough luck. Instead you'll have to make a right, go down the block, then hang a U-turn.

"It sounds like too much work," said Johnson, a feeling shared by several drivers we talked to. "And then, you know, put it in with the traffic in the morning, as well, it's just, I think it'll be a lot harder for a lot of people."

But Reyna says it'll actually save time.

"We don’t have to stop as much at some of the smaller streets," said Reyna. "It’s going to help reduce congestion by over 40 percent."

And that, Reyna says, means you'll stay safer while you drive.

"You're not being forced to turn left and so it's going to prevent somebody T-boning you," she said.

At 3 a.m. TxDOT crews started redirecting traffic. When we test-drove the new turn pattern, it took a little over a minute to get through, though the real test will come once the sun comes up.

Reyna says the agency expects traffic will move a little slower at first as drivers get used to the new design. She says signs will be up walking drivers through the process.

The left turn lanes on the highway itself at FM 973 will be blocked off temporarily so that crews can work safely in the median.

TxDOT is also working on similar projects in Round Rock along I-35, the Y at Oak Hill, and William Cannon at 290.

By Adam Bennett"Super Streets" Debut In Austin


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