Council to review finance deal for MoPac improvements


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 7:09 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 7 at 8:15 AM

AUSTIN -- Relief is in the works for Austin drivers. On Thursday the Austin City Council will review a deal that could pave the way for improvements along Mopac.

The plans include a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the highway, which in turn create a new southbound lane for drivers. According to the project, the bridge would stretch out over Barton Creek at MoPac in Southwest Austin.
The council approved the plan in 2012. Since then the Texas Department of Transportation has worked out the details, but it needs the city's approval to move forward. The Advance Funding Agreement going before the council on Thursday covers construction costs. TxDOT will fund nearly $5 million. If the project winds up costing more then the City of Austin will cover the difference - up to $4 million.
Many drivers support the change but worry about how bad things could get once the work begins.
“It's the construction and time and what happens with MoPac when the construction is happening,” said driver Stacy Muszynski.
With the construction of the bicycle and pedestrian bridge crews will be able to convert the existing shoulder on MoPac, which is currently used by bicyclists, into a new lane for traffic. The extra lane would stretch out between the Loop 360 entrance ramp and the Southwest Parkway exit ramp.
Experts say drivers should brace for delays.
“The reality is any construction, even if we don't close the lanes, is going to have an impact on traffic. People need to be prepared. It will be an unpleasant couple of years as we build these improvements. There is a payoff in the end,” explained Steve Pustelnyk of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
City of Austin voters approved the funds for MoPac improvements in a bond election last November.