CTRMA hoping to open MoPac express lanes in September

For those who haven't been keeping up, the MoPac Improvement Project started in late 2013 and it was supposed to be done by the end of 2015. That didn't happen. 

The contractor took some heat for it but we're getting closer to the finish line and the CTRMA says they're happy with the progress the contractor is making. 

Steve Pustelnyk with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority updated the board on the progress Wednesday morning. "There's a tremendous amount of work, probably more than half to 60% of the work is being done during the nighttime hours.  A lot of paving work and work that can't be done during the day because of the traffic," Pustelnyk said.

Pustelnyk says they're putting the finishing touches on the underpasses or tunnels that will go in and out of downtown. "Those are essentially complete, we're doing some minor finish work there and those will be ready for opening hopefully this fall," he said.

Last October the northbound expresslane from 2222 to Parmer lane was opened.

"It's been doing very well, we've been having about 4,000 vehicles a day use the lane.  It is the least traveled section of MoPac.

Derek Allen is a State Farm agent with an office that overlooks MoPac. 

Allen says traffic during construction has been rough. "The commute has been miserable the entire time we've been open, actually we bought a house closer to my agency here just to avoid the commute or avoid MoPac or SloPac as they call it, at all costs," Allen said.

While Allen doesn't think one expresslane in each direction is going to be enough for Austin in the longrun, he's looking forward to the finished product.

"Getting orange barrels out of the way is going to improve congestion, getting the bottleneck that is there at Cesar Chavez and 5th is going to be an improvement just to have the flow of traffic moving," he said. 

A new tool that may help drivers get around or avoid the nightly MoPac construction -- today the CTRMA agreed to send traffic data to the Waze app.

"We can update them on planned road closures, and if we know we're going to close a road for the night we can update the Waze application and it won't route anyone through that ramp.  If we see a disabled vehicle, or if we see an accident...we'll identify that in the Waze application," said Greg Mack with CTRMA.

Pustelnyk says if you're in a hurry in the evening, drivers might want to avoid MoPac after 8 or 9 at night.

But CTRMA says traffic relief is coming soon.

"We don't have a firm full completion date when all construction in the corridor will be done but we are looking to have the express lanes open to traffic in September," Pustelnyk said.

Pustelnyk says since the northbound expresslane from 2222 to Parmer opened last October, in September they're expecting to open the rest of the northbound lane from Cesar Chavez to 2222.
And all of the southbound lane from Parmer to Cesar Chavez. 

It's possible southbound will open a few weeks after the northbound.