Next week three popular Mopac exits will share single exit ramp

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Starting Sunday, drivers heading south on Mopac will take one exit ramp for three popular streets.

Lake Austin Boulevard, 5th Street and Cesar Chavez are all main entryways into the downtown area, but for the next couple of months they will all share a single exit ramp.

"Cesar Chavez Street and 5th Street are the primary access point to Downtown Austin in the mornings. They're also used heavily at night as well, so this is going to affect a significant number of people," said Steve Pustelnyk with the Mopac Improvement Project.  
About one-third of the drivers that commute to the downtown area on Mopac take one of those two exits. Next week they will have to merge onto one ramp.

"So folks who are driving south on Mopac who want to get off on Cesar Chavez, 5th Street or Lake Austin Boulevard exits will want to make sure they're in the right lane much sooner than they have been because the exit will occur up near Enfield Road about a half mile sooner than it currently does," said Pustelnyk.

The temporary trouble will make it possible for road crews to start working on underpasses for the toll lanes that are under construction. Although some drivers fear the mass exit will cause a significant bottleneck, Pustelnyk said he doesn't expect traffic to increase.

"We don't expect any additional traffic. We really don't expect this to cause any delays. It's the same as it's always been, it's just in a different location," said Pustelnyk.  

Pustelnyk said any rough commutes caused by the closures should be smoothed over when express lanes are completed.

"More than likely when we open there will be some reduction in congestion in this area on the off ramp during peak hours. How long that congestion relief will last given the rapid growth we're facing, that's hard to tell," said Pustelnyk.

In about four months drivers can expect more changes to construction lanes on Mopac. The project is currently about 70 percent completed. On an average day Mopac carries about 180,000 cars and trucks.