MoPac construction woes move finish date to late 2016

Construction of the $200 million MoPac Improvement Project started in the Spring of 2014.
One new express lane in each direction from Cesar Chavez to Parmer...along with bicycle and pedestrian accommodations and sound walls to give the neighborhoods peace and quiet.
Construction on the project is still going.

"The original contract completion date was for the middle of September.  When we originally signed the contract, the contractor indicated they might even finish earlier than that," said Steve Pustelnyk with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

Pustelnyk says the contractor they hired, CH2M, encountered some challenges along the drilling problems, heavy rain, a worker shortage and old utilities in the ground dating back to the 1970's.

A situation that would cause crews to re-think the placement of something like one of the sound walls for example.

"The design plans say put it in a certain place and then they realize there's a drainage pipe or water line," he said.

The crews would have to work around that.

"A lot of that, they should have been aware of or known the risks of when they signed the contract for the project but it doesn't mean it doesn't hinder their progress on the project," Pustelnyk said.

The project in its finished state is now expected to debut in late 2016.  The CTRMA is disappointed it hasn't gone as smoothly as hoped.  They expected the contractor to finish on schedule.

"We have high expectations for our projects.  We want to get them done as quickly as possible to improve mobility so we're very frustrated by this.  But we also realize that things happen," Pustelnyk said.

So for MoPac drivers like Nick Bonetti and Katrina Holder...they'll have to deal with the construction a little bit longer.

"During the day I don't notice it too bad but then every now and then at night and I'll be getting back from band exit's just closed off and it's just a bunch of traffic.  It kind of sucks," Bonetti said.

"I think it's definitely disappointing but I'm really looking forward to be able to take the toll road as well," Holder said.

Pustelnyk says north of 2222, the project is mostly complete so some of those toll lanes will open in the Spring.  But south of 2222, especially near the Enfield exit, a lot of work needs to be done still.  So that won't be ready until late 2016.

CH2M sent FOX 7 this statement about the delay:

"CH2M is committed to delivering a quality project for the Mobility Authority, project stakeholders, and most importantly, the people of Austin. The delay to the project schedule has been caused by a host of unforeseen conditions, including extremely hard rock, delays by others on the new 42-inch waterline, interference from existing undocumented utility locations, and more. CH2M is looking to the Mobility Authority to work with us in a fair and equitable manner to bring the project to a successful completion." --  Craig Martell, CH2M's Executive Director for MoPac

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