In its first opening week, the new northbound MoPac express lane now open between RM 2222 and Parmer Lane is helping reduce some congestion in the main lanes, according to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

The Mobility Authority opened a portion of the northbound express lane Oct. 15, and the agency recorded more than 15,450 transactions in the first week.

Tim Reilly, Mobility Authority director of operations, said he has noticed a “significant change in traffic” in the main lanes between US 183 and Duval Road. Before the lane opened, he said traffic would backup near Duval and Braker Lane, which then pushed traffic farther south to US 183.

“Since we opened this we still have a little bit of a backup at that Duval and Braker area, but it starts out much later and doesn’t last very long at all,” he said. “But the backups that were at Capital of Texas [Hwy.] and 183 have basically disappeared.”

Reilly attributes this to the express lane taking out about 800 vehicles per hour from the main lanes during peak periods.

Traffic picks up in the express lane around 4:30 p.m., with most transactions taking place between 5 and 6 p.m. The exception was last Friday when traffic peaked from 4-5 p.m., according to Mobility Authority data.

The minimum toll rate is $0.25, and there is no cap. The toll peaked at $0.53 in the first week.

The rest of the project will not open until the spring.

MoPac South update

After unveiling proposed plans for extending express lanes on MoPac farther south to Slaughter Lane, progress was affected by a lawsuit filed Feb. 25 by Keep MoPac Local Coalition, a group made up of citizen and conservation groups, including Save Our Springs Alliance and Friends of the Wildflower Center, to halt the project as well as construction on SH 45 SW and planning of the MoPac intersections at Slaughter and La Crosse Avenue.

Dee Anne Heath, Mobility Authority director of external affairs, said the original MoPac South proposals used traffic models based on data from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2035 plan. The lawsuit halted progress on MoPac South, and now the Mobility Authority will have to redo traffic modeling based on CAMPO’s 2040 plan, Health said.

“The lawsuit delayed the next steps so now we have to reconfigure,” she said. “We would open back up to public comment if there is a difference in the numbers.”

Health said she expects the new modeling to be complete by next summer. The technical working group will use the new traffic modeling to create a preferred plan for MoPac South.