Part of new Mopac express lanes now open

After some lengthy setbacks, part of the Mopac express lanes is now open. The variable toll lanes are expected to help prevent congestion and those who can't afford to be late.

The stretch that's now open runs six miles. It's the just the first part of three in the Mopac Improvement Project.

The entrance to the express lane starts on the northbound side of Mopac from 2222 to Parmer. There are no exits between those roads to maintain the flow of traffic.

Because the express lanes are special lanes that use variable tolling, sensors and cameras will monitor the flow of traffic to see how much the toll will be. It will start at a quarter and go up as the lane gets more congested.

Signs ahead of the entrance give drivers enough time to decide if they want to hop on. 

No price cap has been set for the lane. It is not meant for everyday use or for cars with more than two axles. Large trucks (like dump trucks, concrete trucks and tractor trailers) are not allowed. Pickups pulling items like boats, campers or lawn equipment are not allowed either.

The Mopac Improvement Project has had several delays. It was supposed to open in November 2015. The construction company CH2M was nearly kicked off the project for not meeting its deadlines and so far it's racked up around $22 million in fines.

Once the project is complete there will be three places to enter or exit the lanes in both directions: Cesar Chavez, 2222 and Parmer.

Another change on Mopac is happening just south of Enfield on the southbound side. To make room for the southbound express lane, all existing Mopac lanes are being shifted to the right of the current lanes.

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