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In a regional effort to relieve congestion, the Texas Department of Transportation has constructed peak-hour lanes on State Highway (SH) 161. The lanes run approximately three miles on SH 161 where the highway drops to two lanes in each direction. This project uses the existing highway shoulder to provide one additional travel lane in each direction during selected travel times.

Drivers will use the inside shoulders as peak-hour lanes during rush hours from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.on weekdays. The test period for these lanes, which run between two segments of the President George Bush Turnpike, begins Sept. 14.

Austin Bridge and Road, LP was awarded the $3.7 million contract to construct the convertible lanes between Beltline Road and State Highway 183. The project consists of several elements of operation including Intelligent Transportation System solutions and active traffic management strategies including closed circuit cameras for incident detection, dynamic message signs, additional lighting, emergency pull-off locations and a pilot program using tow trucks to speedily remove stalled vehicles.

The changes are a viable temporary fix for a traffic bottleneck that plagues – and perplexes – many suburban commuters.

The long-term plan is to expand and toll the third lane. But transportation officials didn’t want to wait to give commuters some temporary relief.

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