Another roadblock for Mopac construction

AUSTIN, Texas-- It looks like traffic along Mopac will not be getting better any time soon. The project that is slated to be finished nearly a year later than expected, has run into yet another road block.

As if Austin traffic couldn't get any worse, the news of the $200 million Mopac Improvement Project being pushed back is news officials did not want to hear.

“They're telling us they've experienced a number of issues that delayed the full opening of the project," Steve Pustelnyk, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, said.

The contractor CH2M says they have run into several challenges this year.

“From trouble drilling underground drainage structures, to difficulties finding enough employees times, issues with the wet weather," Pustelnyk said.

Crews won't be able to work on the project for (28) now 21 more days at this point.

“They found an underground opening, referred to as a karst. When you find one of those on a construction site in Central Texas, which is quite common, you need to stop work,” Pustelnyk said.

He says they must conduct an investigation to see if any animals live in the karst. Drivers, bikers and pedestrians are forced to wait even longer to see the expected trails, sound walls, and anticipated express toll lanes.

“It's really for that day you’re late getting to daycare to pick up your child or your daughter has an important soccer game," Pustelnyk said.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority expects the completed Mopac Improvement Project to debut in late 2016. The contractor responsible for the project is facing costly penalties.

“We may still be in dispute about how much of it is really their fault, but the bottom line is they are already paying damages for being behind schedule," Pustelnyk said.

He says the Denver–based CH2M could expect to pay around $20-million in penalties for not getting the project done on time.