In a good-news/bad-news sort of situation, the Montopolis bridge, which passes over the Colorado River in the East Austin neighborhood of the same name, has closed permanently to car and truck traffic, Community Impact reported Monday. The truss bridge was built in 1938 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The historic bridge will be repurposed for bicycle and pedestrian traffic as well as for community activities, CI reported. While that change provides a better, safer route for people who get around without cars and/or prefer that more of us do so, the change will not eliminate auto traffic over that section of the river. In fact, the closure is part of a $750 million project that involves increasing the size of U.S. Highway 183.
Overseen by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the project includes the addition of a total of six toll lanes—three in each direction—between Highway 184 between U.S. Highways 290 and 71 as well as maintenance on three non-tolled lanes in each direction. In addition, CI reports, the project includes about $20 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, which will include 16 miles of bike lanes, 10 miles of a shared-use path, and seven miles of sidewalks.
Texas state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, whose district includes the bridge and the Montopolis area—formerly a separate city from Austin that almost became the capital of the Republic of Texas—received the honor of driving the last car to cross the bridge.
The community will have an opportunity for input on the final plans for the bridge, which will have to be the Texas Historical Commission.