There are few things most drivers despise more than sitting in traffic. Add the sweltering heat of a Texas summer day, and you’ve introduced even more suffering.
That’s bad news for Austin, a city that was ranked fourth-worst nationally for traffic in 2013. A good deal of this infamous congestion is born along MoPac. Designed in 1961 to meet the needs of less than a quarter of a million people, MoPac has been under strain since the beginning of Austin’s demographic boom. Today, the design is simply incapable of meeting the needs of the city’s burgeoning population.
But changes are coming soon, as the MoPac Improvement Project gets underway this fall. Estimated at $200 million, the project will add express lanes from Caesar Chavez Street north to Parmer Lane, with the toll price set dynamically according to the amount of congestion on the highway. The project will also construct sound walls along heavily populated areas of freeway and improve or upgrade nearly three miles of existing bicycle and pedestrian corridors.
Recently, proposed designs for the MoPac Improvement Project have undergone several key changes. The most significant of these involves switching the downtown exit ramps from overpasses to underpasses. Here’s a video of how exiting southbound MoPac downtown would work:
Planners contend that this shift will “reduce the visible footprint” of the ramps while also making the construction process easier and less disruptive to ongoing traffic.
Changes to the proposal plan will also:
- Modify the southbound exit to Caesar Chavez and Fifth Street to allow express lane traffic to exit to either Caesar Chavez or 5th Street.
- Abandon an existing 42-inch waterline between 35th Street and 45th Street in favor of a new line, to be constructed outside the MoPac right-of-way.
- Slightly realign the northbound exit ramp and access road to Steck Avenue.
An open house to meet the contractor, ask questions, and learn more about the MoPac Improvement Project will take place on Tuesday, November 12 at O. Henry Middle School, 5-7 p.m. All interested citizens are encouraged to attend.