Frequently Asked Questions
What is the SH 71 Express Project?
The SH 71 Express Project is one of several improvements intended to complete a highway upgrade to SH 71. The project is dedicated to improving mobility along SH 71 in a safe, efficient, and reliable manner. This project also includes improvements to make the area more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Ultimately, the SH 71 Express Project will help alleviate congestion and reduce travel time for drivers.
Where are the project limits?
The SH 71 Express Project begins at Presidential Boulevard near ABIA and extends east for 3.9 miles, ending at SH 130 near Onion Creek. The project includes overpasses at FM 973 and SH 130.
Why does the project not extend past Ross Road?
The traffic evaluations and analysis indicate that the eastbound merging areas on SH 71 east of SH 130 have sufficient merging distances for projected future traffic. They also indicate the proposed changes do not increase congestion at Ross Road and SH 71 for projected future traffic. In addition, traffic evaluations using traffic forecasts beyond the planning horizon are being conducted to plan future improvements along the SH 71 corridor, including potential intersection improvements at Ross Road and additional lanes between SH 130 and Ross Road.
What will the SH 71 Express Project look like?
SH 71 Express is a 3.9-mile limited-access toll road stretching from Presidential Boulevard to SH 130. Two new toll lanes have been added (one in each direction), and new bridges over FM 973 and SH 130, as well as ramps between toll lanes and the mainlanes of SH 71 and SH 130 will be constructed. In addition, the existing SH 71 roadway between Presidential Boulevard and FM 973 has been widened. The same number of existing non-toll lanes will be maintained.
When will construction begin, and how long will it last?
Construction started in early 2015 and the toll lanes opened to traffic on February 28, 2017.
Why is the SH 71 Express Project being built?
Anyone who commutes or has traveled on SH 71 in the Austin area knows this is a very congested roadway. The project will help address growing congestion along SH 71, reduce costs associated with driving in traffic, and improve travel times for all drivers. Specifically, mobility enhancements are expected to result in an estimated cumulative savings of approximately half a billion dollars over a 20-year period from reductions in emissions, fuel consumption, vehicle wear and tear, and the value of travel time. Preliminary estimates indicate that the project would reduce travel time by 16 percent in 2016 and 54 percent in 2026.*
*TxDOT 2013 Preliminary Project Benefit Assessment
What is a design-build project?
Design-Build is a method to deliver a project in which the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity known as the design–builder or design–build contractor. It is now commonly used in many countries. Design-build projects are used to minimize risks for the project owner and to reduce the delivery schedule by overlapping the design phase and construction phase of a project.
Who is building the SH 71 Express Project?
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. was hired by TxDOT to develop, design and construct the project.
What is the cost of the SH 71 Express Project?
The cost for this design-build project is $139 million. The funding for this project is a combination of federal and state funds.
What improvements are included in the SH 71 Express Project?
- Enhancement of mobility in a safe and efficient manner
- Addition of two new toll lanes (one in each direction) from Presidential Boulevard to SH 130
- Improvement of bicycle and pedestrian facilities
- Construction of bridges over FM 973 and SH 130
- Construct connecting ramps between the new toll lanes and the mainlanes of SH 71 and SH 130
- Widening of SH 71 between Presidential Boulevard and FM 973
- The same number of taxpayer-funded, non-tolled travel lanes have been maintained in accordance with state law. Drivers have a choice whether or not to use the SH 71 tolled or non-tolled travel lanes.
What kind of construction and lane closures can I expect from this project?
The improvements consist of widening and reconstructing the existing roadway and building new toll lanes from Presidential Boulevard to Onion Creek near SH 130. All closures, except for emergencies, are planned for nighttime and off-peak hours to minimize the impact to traffic. Holidays and major events have been considered during the planning of lane closures to minimize delays when traffic is the heaviest.
How will the SH 71 Express Project construction activities affect transit in and out the airport?
The expansion of SH 71 at Presidential Boulevard will require periodic lane closures to allow construction crews and equipment to conduct their work. The lane closures will be scheduled for off-peak hours in order to minimize the impact to travelers entering and exiting the airport. Information about construction activities relating to ABIA is available here.
How can I stay updated on construction and lane closures?
To receive updated information on construction and lane closures, visit our website www.sh71express.com, call the project hotline at 1-844-202-7830, or sign up to receive periodic project e-blasts through the “contact us” page on the project website.
How much will tolls cost?
The Mobility Authority is in charge of tolling operations for the project. The toll is $0.87 for a two-axle vehicle (most vehicles are two-axle) and up to $3.48 for a five-axle vehicle with a TxTag. If you don’t have a TxTag, the toll is $1.16 for a two-axle vehicle and up to $4.46 for a five-axle vehicle. For specific tolling questions, please call 512-996-9778 or submit your question through the “contact us” form on the project website.
I would like someone to speak to my group about the SH71 Express Project. How do I request a speaker?
Our project team would be happy to speak to your group about the SH 71 Express Project. To request a speaker, complete the “Request a Speaker” form on the “contact us” page on our website, www.SH71express.com, or you can call the project hotline at 1-844-202-7830.
Who can I contact for more information?
For general project information and inquiries, you can sign up to receive our regular e-blast updates, call our project hotline at 1-844-202-7830, or contact our public information manager Emily Riggs through the “contact us” page on the project website.