The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is moving forward with rehabilitating the 80-year-old steel truss Montopolis Bridge in Austin in order to preserve the structure as a hike and bike trail, indefinitely closing the bridge off to vehicular traffic.
The work, which is part of the second half of the 183 South Project, will link the structure with other local trails and parks. The mobility authority has been working on the project for two years and expects to be completely finished with it in 2020, when the bridge will be open to just cyclists and pedestrians as the new hike and bike trail. Over the course of the next two years, there will be scheduled times when pedestrians and cyclists will be able to use the bridge, but there also will be times when it needs to be completely shut down for safety.
According to the Mobility Authority, vehicular traffic coming from Cesar Chavez Street will now be shifted onto a new bridge, and motorists can access U.S. 183 southbound above the Colorado River. Drivers will no longer be able to access westbound Montopolis Drive directly from the Montopolis steel truss bridge. Local traffic will detour via U.S. 183 southbound to the Vargas Road and Montopolis Drive detour to access Montopolis Drive.
The Montopolis bridge was constructed in 1938. At one point in time, it served as one of the only links between the heart of downtown Austin and the city's east side. In 1996, the Montopolis steel truss bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Authorities explained that despite its age, the bridge is structurally sound and safe, but was just not as wide as it should be for drivers.