Monday, April 09, 2007

More "managed lanes" are pushed to squeeze dollars from MoPac commuters

Plan would change MoPac from 6 to 8 lanes

Proposal will be unveiled this week.

April 09, 2007

By Ben Wear
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2007

It can be done.

The Texas Department of Transportation, caught between the rock of Union Pacific railroad and the hard place of neighborhood umbrage, has proposed a way to cram eight lanes onto the same MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) footprint that now has six main lanes. The two new lanes would be "managed lanes," which probably would be free only to buses or perhaps cars with several occupants and would carry tolls for everyone else.

The plan, which will be unveiled at public meetings Tuesday and Thursday at two Central Austin schools, eliminates no auxiliary lanes or other existing ramps. What it would require, however, at least in a tight stretch between Town Lake and RM 2222, is narrowing the six existing lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet and making the shoulders several feet narrower.

The proposed $110 million project, which would run 12 miles from Town Lake to Parmer Lane, includes sound walls that would be eight to 12 feet tall. The walls would run from about Sixth Street to just south of Anderson Lane on the northbound side and from south of RM 2222 to Sixth Street on the southbound side. There would be no sound walls opposite Camp Mabry, the Transportation Department facilities north of 35th Street or the cemetery near Hancock Boulevard.

Pending public reaction, federal environmental clearance and further planning, construction could start by late 2008 and be done by the end of 2010.

The meetings this week will include presentations by the Transportation Department, displays of maps, cross-sectional drawings of what MoPac might look like, and mock-up photos showing the proposed road.; 445-3698

Check out the plan

What: Two public meetings will be held in Austin this week on a proposal to add two 'managed lanes' to MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).

When: 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Tuesday at O. Henry Middle School, 2610 W. 10th St.; and Thursday at McCallum High School, 5600 Sunshine Drive

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