Possible delay on MoPac toll lanes' opening and other things for Northwest Austinites to know this week, Feb. 27- March 5

Part of the northbound MoPac express lane opened Oct. 15 between RM 2222 and Parmer Lane.

Part of the northbound MoPac express lane opened Oct. 15 between RM 2222 and Parmer Lane.

Here are some news items and other things to know this week if you live in or around Northwest Austin.

MoPac toll lanes opening could be delayed again

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has expected the MoPac express lanes project to finish by June. But contractor CH2M told the Mobility Authority's board Feb. 22 that completion could be pushed back due to construction issues related to concrete-encased tubes and a sound wall that needs to be rebuilt.

A clearer timeline should be available by March, according to the company.

The MoPac project will add one express, or toll, lane in both directions between Parmer Lane and Cesar Chavez Street. The express lanes are variable-tolled, meaning the price goes up as traffic increases in the main and express lanes and decreases as traffic decreases.

The lanes were originally supposed to open in fall 2015. One section on northbound MoPac between RM 2222 and Parmer opened in October.

Seton leader to retire

Seton Healthcare Family is searching for a new top executive following the announcement Feb. 23 that Jesus Garza, the Austin-based health care provider's president and CEO, plans to retire in August.

Garza, who joined Seton in 2002 and has led the organization since 2013, also serves as Texas ministry market executive for Ascension, the parent organization of Seton, and as senior vice president for Ascension Healthcare.

Prior to entering health care, Garza worked in a variety of leadership positions in government, including stints as deputy general manager for the Lower Colorado River Authority, Austin’s city manager and executive director of the Texas Water Commission.

ISDs finalizing new academic calendars

School districts in Northwest Austin are setting academic calendars for the 2017-18 school year, including Round Rock ISD and Pflugerville ISD.

One notable change for RRISD involves an earlier start to the school year, which was made possible because RRISD, as a district of innovation, can exempt itself from Texas’ uniform start date for schools, which mandates classes cannot begin earlier than the fourth Monday in August.

RRISD's first day of class next year will be Tuesday, Aug. 22.

The Domain turns 10 

First promoted as North Austin's “live-work-play” lifestyle center, The Domain celebrates its 10th anniversary in March.

The initial 700,000-square-foot, mixed-use development of retail, restaurants and residential units on 57 acres was a new concept for the city. A smaller 565,000-square-foot second phase opened in February 2010, offering more mainstream shops, such as Express, Vans and American Eagle.

Arboretum brings back monthly wine event

The Arboretum's Wine Down Wednesday event series returns March 1, according to the Northwest Austin shopping district. The free event includes wine tastings, in-store demonstrations, live entertainment and special offers from retailers. Events are also scheduled for April 5 and May 3. The Arboretum is located at 10000 Research Blvd., Austin.

Business moves and other notes

Several local business-related news stories broke last week:

  • Northwest Austin-based video game developer Certain Affinity announced Feb. 24 it will move its headquarters to north Central Austin after remodeling a 55,000-square-foot building at 7620 Guadalupe St., where the Texas Association of School Boards was once located. Certain Affinity, which employs 125 people in Austin, has worked on a variety of popular video games, including “Halo” and “Call of Duty.”

  • Plano-based national retailer J.C. Penney Co. plans to close 130-140 stores and two distribution centers, according to a Feb. 24 statement. The affected locations will be identified in March, the company said. J.C. Penney has two Northwest Austin-area stores located in Tech Ridge at 12351 N. I-35, Austin, and at Lakeline Mall, 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive, Cedar Park.

  • Starting Monday, Austin Beerworks' new taproom will be open seven days a week. The brewery held a grand opening earlier this month for its expanded space at 3009 Industrial Terrace, Austin.

  • Typhoon Texas Austin, located at 18500 N. SH 130, Pflugerville, plans to fill about 600 part-time seasonal jobs before the new water park opens for the summer season in late May.


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