As economic restrictions loosen, some Central Texas toll roads are beginning to fill up with traffic

Traffic on toll roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has steadily climbed over the last two months after nosediving in March. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
Traffic on toll roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has steadily climbed over the last two months after nosediving in March. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

Traffic on toll roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has steadily climbed over the last two months after nosediving in March. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

Although many Central Texas residents are still working from home, those who have been driving on city roads recently may have noticed traffic starting to pick back up again on streets that, a few months ago, seemed nearly deserted.

Data from the Central Texas Mobility Authority backs up that trend, at least on the toll roads the regional mobility authority operates, which include SH 45SW, 183A Toll, 183 South, SH 71, 290 Toll and the MoPac express lanes.

According to data Mobility Authority Chief Financial Officer Bill Chapman presented to the board of directors May 27, the average number of daily trips on the Mobility Authority's toll roads jumped 59.6% from the week ending April 4 to the week ending May 23.

Traffic on the toll roads is not quite up to levels before the coronavirus pandemic affected the community—there were 378,152 daily trips on average the week ending March 7 and 235,877 daily trips the week ending May 23. However, traffic counts have going up every week since they bottomed out in early April.

Throughout May, businesses in Central Texas have begun to open their doors with approval from Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed restaurants to open while adhering to safety requirements May 1; restaurants were followed by a progression of other businesses, including barbershops, hair salons, gyms, bars, water parks and pools.

In a public service announcement released May 22, Abbott called for Texans to continue working to contain the coronavirus as the economy reopens.


“If you go out in public, stay 6 feet apart from others, wear a face covering and wash your hands regularly,” Abbott said.

While vehicle traffic on the Mobility Authority's toll roads has crept up, ridership on Capital Metro’s public transportation services have stayed relatively steady throughout April and May.

The transit agency waived its fares through April and May to encourage social distancing and keep both riders and operators safe. On June 1, fares will return for most riders, but anyone who is unemployed can receive a Workforce Aid Pass to continue free fares through June.

Since mid-March, when classes were canceled for local schools and Capital Metro announced limited service, ridership has ranged from a daily average of 30,000 -40,000, down from a daily average of more than 100,000 in February. The average for May 18-22 was 40,905 riders.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to refer to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority as "the Mobility Authority" rather than "CTRMA." The names of the highways the Mobility Authority manages have also been updated.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


MOST RECENT

East West Manufacturing will retain 30 jobs and create an additional 30 new jobs for a total of 60 full-time jobs in Round Rock over five years, according to an economic incentive agreement signed Oct. 22. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Round Rock to add 60 jobs and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of a burger and fries
Hopdoddy and Austin Pets Alive Thrift get new locations, plus more business news out of East Austin

Several new businesses have opened in or are on their way to Central-East Austin.

Austin FC logo
Austin FC partners with Special Olympics Texas to field MLS Unified team

As Major League Soccer franchise Austin FC starts play in its upcoming season, the team will help to field a squad made up of Special Olympics Texas athletes for a series of matches.

A screen shot of Elon Musk speaking into a microphone
Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirms 2021 opening for Travis County gigafactory

Musk said construction is moving apace at the new electric auto factory east of Austin.

The bakery is known for its Texas Sized Donut weighing 2 pounds and can trace its history back to 1926 when Reinhold R. Moehring opened the shop in downtown Round Rock. (Community Impact file photo courtesy Round Rock Donuts)
Round Rock Donuts coming to Cedar Park and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot. (Courtesy Pexels)
Tackling Texas' vote-by-mail system: Applying, delivering, tracking your ballot

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot.

Graphic visualization of coronavirus
UT experts predict a 96% chance of worsening COVID-19 rates in Travis County in coming weeks

Travis County's health authority says individual actions can still turn the tide.

Early voting at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple
Some Austin-area polling locations have recorded 10,000-plus votes through first week of early voting

Three Williamson County polling locations have each reported more than 10,000 ballots cast in the first week of early voting.

Capital Metro celebrated the opening of a renovated and expanded downtown Austin MetroRail hub Oct. 19. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro opens downtown Austin station and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Photo of a wall of "I voted" stickers
More than 30% of Travis County voters have cast their ballot in first week of early voting

Both in-person voting and by-mail voting in Travis County are up compared to the first week of early voting in 2016.