Austin, TX – Nov. 3, 2015 – The MoPac South project team has unveiled six concepts to address traffic on MoPac South and encourage transit riders with a reliable free flow route into downtown. The Austin Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion today, moderated by Texas State Senator Kirk Watson and featuring several distinguished transportation experts, to discuss the benefits of the proposed MoPac South Express Lanes, including enhanced transit service in the corridor. The discussion also featured information about how other large urban cities are supporting and promoting transit use in their communities.
“The MoPac South corridor is a critical artery for this community and solving its mobility crisis is a priority,” said Senator Watson. “The Mobility Authority is responding to the community's call for more analysis of the Express Lanes concept. They have extended the project schedule to look at additional concepts that provide reliable travel times for people traveling in the corridor. I'm pleased there's a focus on transit and access for emergency responders."
The panel shared how the Mobility Authority, in partnership with local agencies, has advanced the MoPac South Environmental Study. The Mobility Investment Priorities for Central Texas Working Group identified this project to address congestion on MoPac South from Cesar Chavez Street to Slaughter Lane. TxDOT identified this section of MoPac as one of the top 50 most congested corridors in Texas in 2010.
“An Express Bus isn’t very express if it’s sitting in the same congestion as everyone else,” said Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director of the Mobility Authority. “When drivers are idling in their cars while an Express Bus goes flying by at 50 mph, toll free I might add, riding the bus starts to look like an attractive alternative.”
The Mobility Authority is proposing to add two, variable-priced tolled Express Lanes in each direction on MoPac from Cesar Chavez Street to Slaughter Lane. When congestion is heavy, the toll rates would increase to discourage drivers from entering the lanes, allowing the lanes to provide reliable travel times. The lanes are toll-free for transit vehicles, emergency responders and registered vanpools.
Ginger Goodin with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute shared that adding Express Lanes, or converting HOV lanes to Express Lanes on heavily congested and highly developed roads is becoming a national trend.
“The technology available today allows infrastructure agencies to make the most of limited roadway capacity,” said Goodin. “Express Lanes provide drivers with a reliable route when they really need one. They also encourage transit use because buses don’t have to pay a toll.”
Chris Tomlinson, Executive Director for the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), explained how his agency is using their Express Lane project in Atlanta to encourage more transit use.
“If we get drivers out of their cars, even just one or two days a week, we can make a significant impact on mobility,” said Tomlinson.
“Transportation is a major priority for the Chamber, and we support the proposal for Express Lanes – two lanes in each direction and direct service to downtown - on MoPac South,” said Drew Scheberle, Senior Vice President, Austin Chamber. “Express Lanes will benefit all MoPac users whether they choose to use them or not. By prioritizing high-capacity vehicles, the Express Lanes will expand the transportation options for those seeking a faster, more enjoyable commute. As our region’s population continues to increase, we cannot sit idly by and do nothing. Our infrastructure capacity must catch up to demand and be able to accommodate future traffic growth in a sustainable way.”
About the Austin Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Austin Chamber of Commerce is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for its 3,000+ members. For more information about the Austin Chamber of Commerce visit AustinChamber.com.
About the Mobility Authority
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is a local, independent government agency created in 2002 to improve the regional transportation system in Travis and Williamson Counties. The Mobility Authority implements innovative and sustainable transportation options to enhance quality of life and economic vitality in Central Texas. The Mobility Authority operates 183A Toll in Williamson County and 290 Toll (Manor Expressway) in east Austin and is constructing Express Lanes on MoPac Expressway. For more information about the Mobility Authority, visit www.MobilityAuthority.com.
Jenny Steward, PR Manager
Dee Anne Heath, Director of External Affairs
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
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Greater Austin Chamber
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.