Work has just gotten underway on the south MoPac extension project. Earth moving equipment has already cleared away trees that were once in the ROW. Islands of green are now piles of brown mulch, which environmentalist had tried, and failed, to stop from happening.
"This area, we know is really congested, and anybody who leaves out of the neighborhoods over there knows they have to sit through several cycles of lights to get where they need to go, this project will actually help make that a lot easier,” said TX DOT Spokesperson Diann Hodges.
Fulfilling that promise requires going low. The $53 million roadway is expected to open in 2021. Four new limited main lanes will cut through the rolling landscape and stretch from Slaughter Ln. to La Crosse. Drivers like Kirby Bradford are cautiously optimistic of how it could affect south Austin gridlock.
"It’s going to take the traffic off of the local streets, especially once they finish also 45, that will tie in, that’s going to channel, all the traffic that’s onto MoPac thats now using this as access to Buda and areas like that right now,” said Bradford who went on to say the project is long overdue.
Construction headaches have already started. Images sent to FOX 7 show how traffic backs up during the afternoon rush. Protective barriers were installed eliminating a Southbound turn lane. FOX 7 has been told that TxDOT engineers may consider drawing up new configuration, but a proposal, if any, could take several days.
The project is not limited to streamlining MoPac it includes an innovative and somewhat controversial design for the Slaughter Lane overpass. The design is called a diverging diamond intersection. Similar set ups, which weave traffic through stop lights, have been built in Round Rock and San Marcos.
"It’s hard to learn something new, Right, people like to keep things pretty traditional, but what we have learned, a Diverging Diamond Intersection actually allows more traffic to pass through that intersection, safer,” said Hodges.
Down the road at La Crosse, a more traditional overpass will be built there.