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State Highway 45 is a highway loop around Austin, Texas, that exists in two open segments. The official designation of SH 45 is such to form a complete loop around Austin, a distance of roughly 80 miles (130 km).

State Highway 45 marker State Highway 45 toll marker

State Highway 45
Route information
Maintained by TxDOT
Length25.024 mi[1] (40.272 km)
Existed1985–present
Major junctions
Beltway around Austin
Southwestern segment
West end RM 1826 in Austin
Major
junctions
Loop 1
East end FM 1626 in Austin
Eastern segment
West end RM 620 in Austin
Major
junctions
US 183
Loop 1 Toll
I-35
SH 130 Toll
US 290
SH 71
US 183
SH 130 Toll
East end I-35 in Austin
Highway system
I-45SH 46

One segment is in southwest Austin and runs roughly southeast from Ranch to Market Road 1826 to Farm to Market Road 1626 and intersects the southern terminus of Loop 1 (Mopac Expressway). Between RM 1826 and Loop 1, the roadway is a divided, four-lane facility with a wide median intended to accommodate a future freeway, after which the current lanes would serve as frontage roads. Between Loop 1 and FM 1626, the roadway becomes a freeway.

The other segment is a toll road that forms a backwards C-shape along the boundary of Travis and Williamson County before bending down along the eastern edge of the Austin metropolitan area where it shares its route with SH-130.

Route descriptionEdit

Before the 2002 Central Texas Turnpike Project (CTTP), SH 45 existed only as a short section of four-lane, divided highway in southwest Austin. The CTTP added a toll road that runs east from US 183 near Cedar Park, crosses I-35, bi-secting the La Frontera development, and meets SH 130 near Pflugerville. South of this interchange, SH 45 is co-signed with SH 130 to US 183 just south of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. SH 45 then loops westward rejoining I-35 north of Buda.

SH 45 NorthEdit

SH 45 North is an approximately 13-mile (21 km) segment in the north Austin metropolitan area. The freeway's western terminus is at US 183 northwest of Austin in Cedar Park. For a distance, RM 620 travels concurrently with the frontage roads also designated as State Highway 45 (non-tolled). Heading east, the freeway intercepts Loop 1's northern terminus, bisects La Frontera and crosses I-35. This particular segment ends at SH 130 near Pflugerville, but the SH 45 designation continues southward along SH 130.

 
State Highway 45 interchange with Interstate 35 under construction.

The Texas Department of Transportation had originally planned to complete construction of the entire 2002 CTTP in September 2007 but opened some sections of SH 45 North as early as October 31, 2006.

SH 45 SoutheastEdit

SH 45 Southeast is a 7.4-mile (11.9 km), tolled segment southeast of Austin, near Creedmoor, Texas. Roughly paralleling Farm to Market Road 1327, it is a four-lane, controlled-access facility that links SH 130 and US 183 to Interstate 35 north of Buda, Texas. It completes the SH 45 eastern bypass loop around the Austin metropolitan area.

Originally planned as part of the 2002 CTTP, SH 45 Southeast became the subject of controversy, delaying development and necessitating it as a separate project. In 2006, an environmental advocacy group filed a lawsuit in an effort to move the alignment further south. By the summer of the same year, the Federal Highway Administration approved a new environmental impact study affirming the existing alignment, and a federal judge dismissed the case, clearing the way for construction, which began in Summer 2007. SH 45 Southeast was opened to traffic on May 7, 2009.

SH 45 SouthwestEdit

SH 45 Southwest is a 3.6-mile (5.8 km) tollway link between the southern terminus of Loop 1 in the west and Farm to Market Road 1626 to the east. It is a four-lane, controlled-access facility and has a toll rate of $1. Construction on the SH 45 Southwest link officially began in November 2016, after decades of delays due to environmental and legislative concerns.[2] SH 45 Southwest was opened to traffic on June 1, 2019.[3] The highway will still require a segment between FM 1626 and I-35 to connect to the other tolled segments of SH 45. This section, SH 45 South, is already included in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) 2040 Plan for study.[4]

This missing link was one source of controversy surrounding the alignment of SH 45 Southeast. Opponents claimed the proximity of the southwestern and southeastern sections would create more pressure to connect the two and that, if built, the link would encourage development on or near environmentally sensitive land.

Planning for the western portions of SH 45 to form a complete loop is still very early, although a proposal for possible route has already been offered by the City of Lakeway.[5][6]

HistoryEdit

State Highway 45 was originally designated on August 18, 1919 as a route from Bryan to Louisiana border.[7] On September 17, 1923, the section west of Roans Prairie was cancelled.[8] On August 11, 1925, SH 45 was rerouted through Point Blank, Coldspring and Shepherd.[9] On March 19, 1929, a branch of SH 45 on a more direct route from Point Blank to Livingston was designated.[10] As of March 19, 1930, large portions of the highway were still under construction along the proposed route. The section of the branch from Point Blank to Coldspring was renumbered as SH 156 and the section of the branch from Coldspring to Shepherd was renumbered as part of SH 150, so that SH 45 went on the most direct route between Point Blank and Livingston. By 1938, the road was complete, with small portions remaining as a dirt road. On September 26, 1939, the highway from Huntsville to Jasper had been transferred to U.S. Highway 190, the stretch from Jasper to the Louisiana border transferred to SH 63, and the section from Roan's Prairie to Huntsville redirected north to Crockett. on August 24, 1960, the stretch from Huntsville to Crockett was transferred to SH 19. On December 15, 1960, the rest of SH 45 was canceled and transferred to SH 30. The current route was designated, but not constructed, on May 22, 1985 as a proposed Austin Loop, along with SH 130 (north of US 183 only).

SH 45A was a spur designated on September 14, 1926 from Coldspring west to New Waverly.[11] On March 19, 1930, this spur was renumbered as SH 150.

Exit listEdit

CountyLocationmikmDestinationsNotes
WilliamsonAustin  RM 620 (SH 45 west) / Pecan Park Boulevard
   US 183 / 183A Toll Road northCounterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance
Lake Creek ParkwayCounterclockwise exit and clockwise entrance
toll plaza
  FM 734 (Parmer Lane)
   RM 620Access to Round Rock Medical Center
O'Connor Drive / McNeil Road
  Loop 1 Toll south
Round Rock  FM 1325 (La Frontera Boulevard) / County Road 172
  I-35 – WacoI-35 exit 250B; no direct exits to I-35 south (signed eastbound at FM 1325 and westbound at A.W. Grimes Boulevard)
Greenlawn BoulevardNo direct counterclockwise exit (signed at A.W. Grimes Boulevard)
A.W. Grimes Boulevard
Donnell DriveNo counterclockwise exit
TravisPflugervilleHeatherwilde Boulevardeastbound exit and westbound entrance
toll plaza
   SH 130 / FM 685 / Kelly LaneSH 130 exit 428A
  SH 130 Toll north – Waconorth end of SH 130 overlap; SH 45 north/west follows exit 428B
see SH 130
Mustang Ridge   US 183 – Austin, Lockhart, AirportSH 130 exit 457
  SH 130 Toll south – Lockhart, San Antoniosouth end of SH 130 overlap; SH 45 south/west follows exit 458
  To FM 1625 – Creedmoor
North Turnersville Road
Austin  I-35 – San Antonio, AustinI-35 exit 223A
Gap in route; free frontage roads only west of Loop 1
Austin  FM 1626 – Kyle
Bliss Spillar RoadClockwise exit and counterclockwise entrance
  Loop 1 north
Escarpment Boulevard
  RM 1826
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Transportation Planning and Programming Division (n.d.). "State Highway No. 45". Highway Designation Files. Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
  2. ^ "Nearly 30 years in the making, construction on SH 45 SW Toll starts". KXAN News. November 9, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  3. ^ "SH45 opens June 1". Hays Free Press. Hays Free Press. May 29, 2019. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "SH 45 Toll: Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on November 23, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2016. A possible connection from FM 1626 to I-35 is included in CAMPO’s 2040 Plan for study.
  5. ^ McKee, Cassie (October 3, 2014). "CAMPO held public meeting on extending Hwy. 45, Lakeway proposed toll road goes through Four Points". Four Points News. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "SH 45 W. proposal garners CAMPO support". Bee Cave Bee. June 13, 2014. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  7. ^ "Minutes of the Twenty-Seventh Adjourned Regular Monthly Meeting of the State Highway Commission" (PDF). Texas Department of Transportation. August 18, 1919.
  8. ^ "Minutes of the Seventy-Second and First Adjourned Meeting of the State Highway Commission" (PDF). Texas Department of Transportation. September 17, 1923.
  9. ^ "Minutes of the Eightieth Regular Meeting of the State Highway Commission" (PDF). Texas Department of Transportation. August 10, 1925.
  10. ^ "Minutes of the One Hundred and Thirty-Second Meeting of the State Highway Commission" (PDF). Texas Department of Transportation. March 18, 1929.
  11. ^ "Minutes of the Ninety-Eighth Regular Meeting of the State Highway Commission" (PDF). Texas Department of Transportation. September 13, 1926.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit