CTRMA report: MoPac express lane saves travelers up to 25 minutes of driving time

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Updated May 20 at 1:15 p.m. to include more context for when the MoPac improvement project and sound walls projects were completed and to correct the source for the origins and destination data. 

The MoPac express lane moves up to 21 miles per hour faster than the nontolled lanes and can save drivers up to 25 minutes of travel time, according to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

“I think this has been truly one of the most transformative transportation projects in the region,” CTRMA Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein told commissioners.

The MoPac express lanes opened fully to traffic in October 2017, a year and a half after the original proposed completed date. The $230 million project officially finished in March.

The project added one managed toll lane between Parmer Lane and Cesar Chavez Street, which is variably priced.

A separate, approximately $4.5 million project that includes work on the sound walls by the Westminster senior living center is expected to be completed in June. Work on the Westminster portion of the project is essentially complete and all lanes are open to traffic, according to a CTRMA spokesperson.

The toll lane carries up to 1,600 vehicles per hour, including Capital Metro buses.

Express Bus ridership on MoPac has increased 73% year over year, which CTRMA staff attributed to toll-free access granted to Capital Metro vehicles.

Traffic pattern data from the new express lanes also helps the regional mobility authority better plan for and coordinate future transit projects.

“This is very helpful for [Capital Metro] to know where the demand’s coming from and where potential park-and-rides could be and where there’s service structures that could be adapted,” Heiligenstein said.

The following bar charts show major origins and destinations at different segments of MoPac during morning and evening peak times. The data was published in an annual update provided to the Travis County Commissioners Court by CTRMA and was provided by an outside firm called Stantec.

Southbound MoPac North of Parmer (morning peak)

Major origins:

Major destinations:

Northbound MoPac North of Parmer (afternoon peak)

Major origins:

Major destinations:

Southbound MoPac North of Enfield (morning peak)

Major origins:

Major destinations:

Northbound MoPac North of Enfield (evening peak)

Major origins:

Major destinations:

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  1. You can save 25 minutes, sure, if you’re commuting huge distances. This project encourages people to live further away from work, and has seriously worsened southbound traffic on Mopac downtown and crossing the river. I support the toll lane merging with the left lane of traffic (the way Houston does it) before crossing the river to return Mopac to its previous configuration there. Also, CTRMA will build a toll lane on south Mopac over my dead body.

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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