How much work has been done on troubled MoPac project, how much remains

Aerial drone video, released Wednesday,  provides a view of just how much work has been done so far on the troubled MoPac project and how much remains. A big reason for the two year delay has been work cutting trenches for the north and southbound ramps.

The fly through shows there is truly light at the end of the tunnel, but that’s not the only reason why it was done.

"We want to put as much pressure, so to speak, on the contractor, to get this thing done as quickly as possible,” Mike Heilgenstein the Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

While the slow pace has been an embarrassment for the road builder; for the families who live along MoPac, the wait has been frustrating. Especially because much of the work now is being done at night.

"We've had the constant noise of the construction all the vehicles that come in through the neighborhood, the constant orange cones that are everywhere directing traffic, it’s definitely a nuisance,” said Anne Marie Gonin.

On Wednesday, officials with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority were told work should be done by the end of summer. There is no firm opening date but it’s believed paving may start in April and in June between 2222 and the Lady Bird Johnson Lake, different stages will start being phased in..

'It breaks out rather nicely, and we almost have two separate projects. One northbound, one southbound. So if one of those is ready before the other we are not going to waste any time opening them, so yes in Mid-summer we will see one of those open,” said Heilgenstein.

More drone fly-bys planned for each month and the videos will be posted on the project website. Road mangers hope the focus will no longer be on what’s not done, but on how each final stage is coming together.
The bulk of the money being used to build this project is coming from a $130 million grant from CAMPO. The game plan was to start paying that money back, September the first, but because the tollway is not fully operational a financial squeeze has put on to that plan.

According to the agreement, the first payment totals $2 million.        

Action could have been delayed- like the project itself- but board members with the CTRMA voted to tap an account in the general fund that keeps the 22 year payment plan on schedule.

"And it’s important for the credit market, to not give a signal, that even though this isn't in our financial system, I don’t want to tell the credit markets we are missing any payments, so we are going to make this payment on time and it doesn’t do anything from our reserves,” said Heilgenstein.

The performance of three other CTRMA Tollways makes the expenditure an easy decision. Board members with the CTRMA were told all the roadways they are managing are out performing original projections.

FOX 7 was provided a Monday-Friday transaction comparison for the month of March.

183A
Projected Transaction M-F
152,174
Actual March 2017*
160,093

SH290 (Manor Expressway)
Projected Transactions  M-F
70,273
Actual March 2017*
84,078

SH71 (ABIA By Pass)
Projected Transactions  M-F
19,000
Actual March 2017*
25,815

*(March 1 – 28, 2017)

Source: CTRMA

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