Construction on MoPac Express Lanes About to Start

October 16, 2013 by Kate Harrington

Get ready to see some changes on MoPac Boulevard, also known as Loop 1. On Oct. 18, a groundbreaking ceremony for the MoPac Improvement Project will kick off an estimated two and a half-year construction project that will bring two added toll lanes — one on each side – to MoPac. The work is slated to really get going in December.

The $200 million project, overseen by the Central Texas Mobility Authority (CTRMA), will add one tolled Express Lane on each side of an 11-mile stretch of MoPac, between Parmer Lane and Lady Bird Lake. The goal is to improve mobility on an already-crowded road. MoPac currently carries more than 180,000 cars and trucks each day, a number projected to rise to more than 320,000 cars per day by 2030

The new, tolled Express Lanes will feature a specific kind of toll meant to keep traffic in the lanes flowing. Drivers will be charged a variable toll that changes according to traffic congestion; if you’re driving in rush hour traffic, you’ll pay a much higher toll to cruise through the Express Lane than you would when there’s light traffic on MoPac. According to CTRMA, toll rates could range from $0.25 to $4.00 — but could go higher if demand is greater than projected.

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CTRMA

The added toll lane is also meant to give emergency vehicles, public transit buses and vanpools a fast, reliable and non-tolled way to move on the highway. Drivers will be able to enter or the Express Lanes at Cesar Chavez Street in downtown Austin; near RM 2222 and Far West (for access to and from US 183); and near Parmer Lane in north Austin.

The original three lanes on either side of the 11-mile section of MoPac will remain toll-free, and special striping and white plastic barriers will demarcate the Express Lanes.

None of this construction requires the purchase of additional property. Instead, additional pavement will be added either in the median or on the outside of the roadway to make room for the new toll lanes, which will be on the left side of each direction. Although MoPac’s existing lanes are going to mostly remain open during the construction of the new Express Lanes, they will be surrounded by construction and barriers.

In addition to the new lanes, the MoPac Improvement Project will add new sound walls, aesthetic upgrades and landscaping, enhancement of bicycle and pedestrian facilities and enhanced traffic monitoring and incident management.

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.