Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Unelected toll tax authority hopes new MoPac 'managed lanes' will bring them Mo' Money

Lawmakers look to ease MoPac congestion


by Andrew Horansky
Copyright 2010

It is an artery so often clogged, the name is notorious. On Wednesday, state transportation leaders talked about ways in which the congestion along MoPac could be eased.

“Time is lost, fuel is wasted, air quality is degrading and drivers are increasingly frustrated,” said Ray Wilkerson, Chairman of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

Part of their plan is to add toll roads along MoPac between Parmer Lane in North Austin and Slaughter Lane south of the city. The cost to use the lanes would go up when traffic is heavier, and down when it is lighter.

“And if you need to pick up your child from daycare, or whatever you need to do, you will now have a choice to go down an express lane without an impeded flow,” Wilkerson said.

Leaders may be taking their cue from cities like Houston. The city recently added special toll lanes where, depending on time of day, drivers pay anywhere from 30 cents to several dollars to avoid bad traffic.

Yet other changes will happen along MoPac first. Repaving has begun between 2222 and Cesar Chavez. Later this year, re-striping will begin near the Enfield and Cesar Chavez exits. Another project under discussion is the addition of new sound barriers along MoPac.

A two-year environmental study must also be completed before toll roads open. An early estimated cost for the entire project is $250 million.

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