For Austinites who commute to work each day, we often find ourselves at the mercy of Central Texas’ famous traffic congestion. There are two main traffic corridors serving the Austin area – IH 35 and Loop 1. Both seem to be more and more congested each day. Loop 1, better known as MoPac, is the focus of the long awaited MoPac Improvement Project, currently underway.
The steady growth trend in population here in Central Texas has turned this once viable alternative to IH 35 to one of the most congested traffic routes in the State of Texas. As partners in determining options to improve mobility along this route, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the City of Austin, and Capital Metro (CapMetro) initiated a study in 2012. Their study determined that Express Lanes with variable pricing were the preferred option for this corridor to address congestion and long-term mobility issues.
In a nut shell, two (concrete barrier separated) toll lanes (one in each direction) will be added to the middle of the MoPac corridor beginning at Parmer Lane to the north and ending at Cesar Chavez to the south.
Different from traditional HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes, these lanes will have variable tolls based on the amount of congestion, raising the price when traffic is heavy and lowering the price when traffic is light. Overall, authorities believe this will help keep traffic moving more effectively while maximizing the use of this facility.
It’s a unique alternative for addressing traffic congestion and the first of its kind in Austin. Construction is expected to be complete in late 2015.
For history on this project and up-to-date information on construction, please visit the MoPac Express website for more information. There you’ll find a Twitter feed of lane closures and delays, construction alerts and real-time congestion maps. You will also see a “Construction Progress” bar, and at the time of this blog posting, construction is 24% complete.
Also, if you visit the MoPacExpress YouTube channel, you can watch videos that convey what it will be like to drive on MoPac once the toll lanes are complete.