| SH71/US290 West, also known as Ben White Boulevard, is one of Austin's newest freeways. Sections have opened regularly since 1996, when the first section west of I-35 was opened. A 5-level stack is currently under construction at I-35, and the freeway east of I-35 to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will start construction in 2002.
Major displacements of commercial properties were required to build this facility. Most of the freeway had a 150 ft (46m) wide right-of-way which was expanded to 300+ feet (91m+) , and the western segment which opened in 1998 was on a 80 ft (24m) right-of-way. The upcoming section at the western end, scheduled for 2004, will require many more business displacements. The new freeway is a high quality facility with interesting design features, including depressed sections, elevated sections, and partial stack interchanges.
|Early 1980's||Plans to upgrade Ben White Blvd to a freeway are formulated.|
|Early 1990's||Right-of-way clearance and construction begins. There are substantial business displacements.|
|1996||The first section of freeway just west of IH-35 is completed.|
|1998||A 2-mile segment west of Loop 1 is completed.|
|2000||Work begins on the 5 level stack at IH-35. This phase is an $86 million contract; the total cost of the stack will be about $125 million when completed.|
|2002||Scheduled contract award for upgrading Ben White to a freeway east of IH-35 to Austin-Bergstrom Airport.|
|2004||Scheduled contract award for extension of freeway westward through Oak Hill. As of April 2001, only the feeder roads are funded.|
Views look west. Modern view taken March 2001.
|Photo taken August 2000, looking west. This is the current beginning/end of the freeway just east of Oak Hill. The freeway end on the westbound lanes has severe traffic jams.|
|Photo taken August 2000, looking towards the west. This section, completed in 1998, is typical of new freeways in Austin, with 6 lanes and a central grassy median.||
Photo taken August 2000, looking towards the east. The four level interchange was completed in several phases since the early 1990's. The Loop 1 main lanes, 1 level above grade, were completed in 1999. The interchange has 2 direct connectors. There are currently no plans to add more connectors.
|Photo taken August 2000, looking west. Notice the two over/under interwoven entrance/exit ramps in the background.||
Photo taken August 2000, looking northeast. This interchange was completed around 1997. Loop 360 branches to the left, SH71/US290 branches to the right.
Photo taken August 2000, Looking east. This section of SH71 is depressed below grade.
Photo taken June 2000, looking east with I-35 crossing over SH71/US290.
This will be ground zero for the new stack.
Go to the
Photo taken August 2000, Looking east. This is the existing SH 71, just west of the airport. This will be converted into a 6-lane freeway with 6-lane feeders starting in 2002.
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