Despite weather delays, construction on the new SH 45 Southwest (SW) toll road is still ahead of schedule, Hays County officials said.
The four-lane toll road will link MoPac in Austin with FM 1626 near Bliss Spillar Road in Hays County. Construction began in November 2016. Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said the project is on track to be ready for drivers by April 2019.
“It’s still moving ahead of schedule and going well,” Jones said. “It should hopefully be completed around the same time we have FM 1626 done, in April or May.”
The two projects will give drivers improved access to Austin and the western portion of Hays County. Officials said drivers who use the new tollway can expect to save up to 17 minutes when driving from Hays County to Central Austin. That will ease congestion on Interstate 35 and other routes, so drivers going to Austin who continue to travel on those roads will save between 6 and 7 minutes, officials said.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) will set a toll rate when the highway is closer to opening. For now, it is anticipated to be around a $1.00 toll.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the expressway will not have frontage roads in order to limit the impact to the surrounding environment. The project also includes a ten-foot-wide shared use path that will be separated from the roadway for nearly the entire length of the project. The total cost was reported to be $108 million and is being paid for using funds from the state and Hays and Travis counties.
In July, a judge ruled in favor of CTRMA and TxDOT in a lawsuit filed to stop construction on SH 45 SH and another south Austin mobility project to improve MoPac intersections. The Save Our Springs (SOS) Alliance and other plaintiffs argued endangered salamanders and birds would be harmed by the construction. Both projects had already received environmental clearance.
A proposed connection from FM 1626 to Interstate 35 is included in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization 2040 Plan for study.