MoPac Improvement Project revisions seek public input

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by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and KVUE.com

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 5 at 5:53 PM

AUSTIN -- Traffic on MoPac has become a point of discontent for many and now the MoPac Improvement Project wants to hear what you think about the next phase in construction.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is hosting an open house with the Texas Department of Public Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration on Thursday.

The open house, scheduled for 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., will be held at O. Henry Middle School, located at 2610 West 10th Street.

Officials say they will share information about four proposed design modifications to the project.

The most significant change involves switching the downtown exit ramps from overpasses to underpasses. CTRMA says this will reduce the “visual footprint” of the ramps and will make the ramps easier to construct. CTRMA also says the underpass design will reduce the impact to existing traffic during construction.

The other important proposed change involves allowing southbound Express Lane traffic using the downtown exit ramp to access 5th Street as well as Cesar Chavez Street. Small businesses expressed concern over the previous plan to route that traffic to Cesar Chavez.

Sushi Zushi on West 5th Street's general manager, Trinity Carter, attended one of the MoPac public meetings last year.

"For my restaurant, would have been devastating. We would have probably gone under," she said.

"But there are some neighbors along the corridor, along 5th Street, that would prefer there not be any traffic on 5th Street," said Steve Pustelnyk, director of community relations for the MoPac Improvement Project. He says they're going to build a three-lane exit, allowing access to 5th.

"We believe it's operationally safer that cars going through that area. It will be easier for them to navigate if we have three lanes there," he said.

Representatives from the MoPac Improvement Project will be on hand to answer questions and garner input Thursday night.

When the project is complete there will be an 11 miles stretch of a single tolled express lane in each direction, between Parmer Lane and downtown Austin. All existing lanes will remain toll free.

Officials expect construction to begin later this year, and plan to complete the project in approximately two years.

A “Meet the Contractor” open house is scheduled for November. CTRMA says that meeting will provide detailed information about the overall project.

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