The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has pulled back on offering an opening date for the MoPac express toll lane project, but the expanded roadway is likely to open this summer.
“We still think we’re in the summertime ballpark,” Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein said today. “I don’t think there will be much slippage beyond that.”
The MoPac Improvement Project is adding one express toll lane in each direction between Parmer Lane and Lady Bird Lake. Drivers will be able to exit from the southbound express lane to Fifth and Cesar Chavez streets or continue southbound over the lake. Drivers can only enter the northbound express lane when crossing north over the lake or from Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin.
Instead of focusing on a specific date, Heiligenstein said the agency is keeping track of completing significant milestones that need to occur before the project can open.
In the next few weeks, he said the agency expects to reopen the auxiliary or merge lane on northbound MoPac between 35th and 45th streets. Currently, drivers entering MoPac are forced onto the main lanes.
The Mobility Authority will also reopen the northbound exit ramp to RM 2222 in the next couple of weeks, said Steve Pustelnyk, the agency’s director of community relations.
In the next few weeks crews also will be adding the final layer of friction course pavement.
About 210 workers are on the project daily, Pustelnyk said, a number that is a decrease from numbers seen last summer.
“We have a smaller area we’re working in so we have fewer people as a result,” he said.
Heiligenstein said Mobility Authority staffers are still working with contractor CH2M and subcontractor Lane Construction on phasing the opening of the project. If that happens, the entire northbound express lane could open first. In October, part of the northbound express lane opened north of RM 2222 to Parmer.
Disclosure: Amy Ellsworth, general manager for Community Impact Newspaper’s Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto edition, was appointed in February to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board of directors, serving a two-year term through Jan. 31, 2019.