After the MoPac express lanes opened in 2017 to provide congestion relief to drivers north of Lady Bird Lake, the new lanes created another problem in the area west of downtown Austin.
Drivers trying to enter southbound MoPac near Winsted Lane found their commute times increase. The agency that built the toll lanes, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, now thinks it has a solution that could provide some relief to drivers.
“We’ve never given up on that,” said Justin Word, the agency’s director of engineering.
The proposed project would involve giving the on ramp to southbound MoPac from Bee Cave Road its own auxiliary or merging lane instead of forcing traffic directly onto MoPac. That lane would continue to the Loop 360 exit. Drivers entering southbound MoPac after Barton Skyway would still have their own on ramp.
“[The modeling showed] it has a tremendous impact on this area, basically cleaned it up,” Word said.
In February, the Mobility Authority will complete the traffic study and have a clearer picture of how the project would perform. Word briefed the board about the proposed concept at the board’s Jan. 30 meeting.
The proposed project is still in the concept phase, and the Texas Department of Transportation would have to approve the project. Word said ideally the Mobility Authority would be able to complete the interim project, estimated to cost between $10 million and $15 million, before starting any work on the MoPac South project to extend the express toll lanes to Slaughter Lane.
“[The interim project has] been by far the most promising thing we’ve seen to date in improving this area,” Word said.
If approved, the project would take 16 to 18 months to complete.