It was a Monday morning grind that had many south Austin commuters asking: Why the roads were so clogged?
The MoPac expansion project between Lady Bird Lake and Enfield Rd required three northbound lanes to be reduced to two. Exits to 5th and Cesar Chavez were unchanged which is why last week CTRMA Spokesman Steve Pustelynk seemed cautiously optimistic about coming commute.
"We think the worst of it will be in the PM Rush, in the morning we don’t think the impact will be all that significant. And again we think the people coming out of downtown will benefit significantly from this."
As it turns out - the Monday morning rush was bad; so bad, traffic backed up on Lamar and South 1st as drivers tried to find alternate routes into downtown. Few were successful - and some - like Chuck Murphy- had to take a break out of the line.
“Normally its 25 minutes to 30 minutes, two hours so far. I had to refill my car and use the bathroom,” said Murphy.
Mike Long was also forced to make an unscheduled pit stop.
"Oh brother, I had to pull in and get some coffee, I came from Dripping Springs, been on the road for I don’t know how long. I thought I would take a short cut on Lamar, that was wrong,” said Long.
By Mid-Day MoPac was moving again at its usually pace, but with construction not expected to wrap up for 6 months, morning and afternoon rush hours are expected to be extremely difficult.
"We are making some minor adjustments to try to improve things, but ultimately I think the big issue this morning was an accident on I-35 that increased the volumes on MoPac combine with unfamiliarity with the condition, We think as more people get use to this lay out it will flow smoother and that will reduce delays significantly,” said Pustelynk
The road management tweaking includes setting up more warning signs and installing lane guiding devices to help drivers maneuver through the construction zone. For Cadence Olivarez - who was still facing another hour on the road when I spoke to her the solution is a bit more drastic.
"We'll actually, good news is I'm moving, partially due to the traffic, I can’t, it’s just too much man,” said Olivarez.
The entire project is expected to be completed in November. After that -- work expanding Hwy 183 will start ramping up and then TX DOT will start moving forward with rebuilding I-35 through downtown.