MoPac lane closures begin

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MoPac lanes closing nightly to prepare for project to add toll lanes
By Ben Wear
American-Statesman Staff
May 20, 2013

MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) will see the first lane closures beginning this week as part of a two-plus year project to widen the expressway and add a toll lane in each direction between Lady Bird Lake and Parmer Lane.

The work, surveying and soil sampling, will cause rolling lane closures between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The only daytime activity, likely to happen next week, will be some helicopter flyovers at relatively low altitudes that, while potentially distracting to drivers, will not close lanes. Officials with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which will build and operate the $200 million express toll lane project, said the flights, part of the surveying work, will be about 500 feet above the road.

The surveyors began work Sunday night, and are closing stretches of lanes for only a few minutes at a time before moving on to the next location. Beginning May 28, small drilling rigs will begin taking soil samples. Lane closures for that work will last longer, and the mobility authority warns that there could be drilling noise audible for people living along the expressway.

The surveying and sampling work should be done by the end of July. Construction of a fourth lane on each side of MoPac over those 11 miles will begin late in the year. The authority’s intention is that the construction involving lane closures also will be at night, but officials expect that lanes tightened by concrete barriers and other construction activity will cause some daytime delays on the already congested highway.

The tolls will vary based on the level of traffic in the free lanes, with tolls rising as congestion worsens in an effort to keep express lane speeds at 50 mph or more. The project will also include construction of about seven miles of sound-suppression walls along MoPac, and some bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the corridor.

Construction should be done by late 2015, the agency says.

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