STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
MARBLE FALLS — The Texas Transportation Commission on Sept. 4 awarded a $7.3 million construction contract to widen a nearly 2-mile stretch of U.S. 281 south of Marble Falls.
Jordan Foster Construction LLC will create a center-turn lane and shoulders on the 2.2-mile stretch of the highway from RR 2147 East to 0.3 miles north of Texas 71.
Brad Wheelis, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation, said the start of construction is a few months away.
“Construction will most likely begin this winter, sometime between November and January,” he said.
Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery said that, with the holidays, the construction start date could be later.
“I’ve seen situations where they would move to a January 1 start date,” he said.
Most of the widening will be done on the east side of the highway. Tuff Machinery, 3053 U.S. 281, already has had to move fencing and equipment back from the roadway to make room for the expansion.
“Like any construction project, it’s going to be difficult,” Dockery said. “It’s painful, but in the end, it’s a better, safer product.”
The expansion doesn’t automatically mean that speed limits will be increased from the current 55 mph limit, Dockery said. TxDOT will make that determination after construction, he said.
Dockery does expect construction to force traffic down to one lane in each direction until it’s complete.
With all the growth and development in the area, the expansion is one part of more plans from TxDOT.
TxDOT’s Unified Transportation Program (UTP) calls for similar construction in the future on U.S. 281 to the south of Texas 71 to the Blanco County line.
The same is scheduled for Texas 71 from Spur 191 in Spicewood to the Blanco County line to the east.
The Project Tracker on TxDOT’s website includes the project status of all work in the state as well as UTP projects.