MoPac Improvement Project starts Friday


by TINA SHIVELY / KVUE News and Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @TinaS_KVUE

Posted on October 18, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 18 at 5:28 PM

AUSTIN -- A big project to help relieve traffic in Austin began on Friday.

The sign reads "A better MoPac is right around the corner." Some say that's good news for a city dealing with tremendous growth, including Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

"One of the only negative things about Austin right now, in the eyes of people who might be thinking about coming here and locating their businesses here, is we do have terrible traffic," he said.

The $200 million MoPac Improvement Project aims to do something about it.

"If you're out here at 4 o'clock, you understand why it's important to get it done quickly," said Executive Director of The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Mike Heiligenstein.

The new highway will have toll express lanes from Cesar Chavez Street up north to Parmer Lane. The more people who use the lanes, the higher the toll will go. The price ranges from 25 cents to $4.

The project, which broke ground Friday, includes landscaping, improved bicycle lanes and a 20-foot tall, mile-long sound barrier.

"That has been something that this community has wanted for decades, and with this improvement it's the first opportunity to give it to them." Heiligenstein added.

Not everyone agrees that a wall built between them and MoPac is such a great idea. Some in the Allandale neighborhood say it would block out too much.

Scott Ehlers is with The Friends of Great Nothern Boulevard Green Space.

"There are houses right across the street, so they're gonna be looking at this 20-foot wall all day long.  It's gonna block out the sun, block the breezes. It's just gonna be a general eyesore I think," he explained.

Voters in all but three of the proposed sections approved the wall. The entire project is expected to be finished by 2015.

Go here to learn more about the MoPac Improvement Project.