Singin’ the MoPac Blues

October 6, 2016 by Kate Harrington

The end is in sight for the now almost three-year construction project on MoPac – although not as quickly as many commuters would like.

The MoPac Improvement Project, which is adding one managed toll lane on each side of the highway for an 11-mile stretch between Parmer Lane and Cesar Chavez Street, is limping toward a late 2016 finish line.

In early August, officials with the Improvement Project were saying that the toll lanes would open by Aug. 30, but thanks in part to heavy rains, that date has since been pushed back. There is currently not a new target opening date, although the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), the organization overseeing the work, has said that contractor CH2M Hill has added staff to push forward on the opening of the toll lanes.

According to the project’s website, work is close to complete on most of the sections; installation of sound walls, retaining walls, and paving are wrapping up.

“We have several weeks of work left on the northbound north-end section [between RM 2222 and Parmer Lane] if weather cooperates,” Jeff Dailey, CTRMA’s deputy executive director, told Community Impact in late August.

In the meantime, the project has released this video about how the tolling on the managed lanes will work. Officials have tried to emphasize that the lanes are not necessarily meant to be filled with regular traffic; instead, they offer a speedier way to get out of traffic on occasion. Drivers will pay a toll to travel in the lanes, the price of which will vary depending on how heavy the traffic is. The average rush hour toll is expected to run around $2.50.

Where the lanes might make a bigger impact on congestion is with transit, which along with emergency vehicles, will be able to roll through the lanes for free. That means that express buses coming and going between downtown and the suburbs will have a much faster ride than they currently experience.

Capital Metro is adding two new express bus routes in January, which means more commuters will be able to take advantage of that particular option.

To learn more about the managed lanes and the project, click here.

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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.