The clearing of the right-of-way for the SH 45 SW tollway project was approved to start in November following U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judges’ decision Nov. 4 to deny a motion for an injunction that would stop construction.
At the Nov. 4 hearing, plaintiffs argued work should not move forward on SH 45 SW, a 3.6-mile toll road that would connect Loop 1 with FM 1626 in Hays County. Three court judges heard arguments on an emergency motion for preliminary injunction from the Keep MoPac Local Coalition, the group that has opposed the SH 45 SW project for years and filed a lawsuit against the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and Texas Department of Transportation to prevent the construction. Bill Bunch, executive director of the Save Our Springs, or S.O.S., Alliance and Keep MoPac Local member, said the group wants a comprehensive study on the effects of building SH 45 SW, the MoPac Intersections project and adding MoPac express lanes.
Bunch said Keep MoPac Local plans to move forward with a final trial on the merits at the trial court level in December or January.
“The case will go forward even if the court lets them go ahead and start clearing the right-of-way,” he said. “The community never gets to see the whole picture until it’s too late. I think everybody agrees traffic on MoPac is already a nightmare. Building SH 45 SW first will make it much worse of a nightmare.”
In October a federal judge had already determined SH 45 SW could move forward as a standalone project, according to Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty.
“You can’t ever second-guess judges,” Daugherty said. “I just think that we have a project here that meets all the standards that this road needs to meet, and it needs to move forward.”
In a news release, the Mobility Authority stated the $109 million project will take about three years. Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Mobility Authority, said he is proud of the environmentally sensitive design.
“This project was developed with a delicate balance in mind—meeting the population’s need for new infrastructure, while still taking appropriate measures to protect our environment,” he said.