City wants further study of South Austin MoPac expansion project

(via CTRMA)
(via CTRMA)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council is weighing in on projections to add tolled express lanes on MoPac, south of Lady Bird Lake. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is looking at adding the lanes between Cesar Chavez Street and Slaughter Lane.

CAMPO’s long-range plan to add four new toll lanes, as well as a double-decker bridge over Lady Bird Lake, brought several concerns from people living near the highway.

“It’s going to deeply affect us,” said Karen Kreps, who lives in the Barton Hills area off of MoPac near the greenbelt, where the double-decker lanes would start. “The last thing Austin needs is another road, and the last thing my neighborhood needs is two years of massive construction.”

Those like Kreps who do not like the idea of the tolled express lanes on south MoPac support city leaders taking another look at the plans.

“If we can’t find another solution to this problem than paving it, then I don’t think we have much of a life ahead of us here,” one woman told the Council.

One concern is the potential impact the project will have on Zilker Park, Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer. The other issues has to do with the amount of traffic passing by Austin High School to get to Cesar Chavez and West Fifth streets. The Council’s vote would direct city staff to study the environmental impact and the effect the expansion would have on the area.

“Let’s don’t turn down and cut in half a plan that’s already been studied and analyzed that will definitely provide relief for us in South Austin and daily commuters,” said Mike Rodriguez, who lives on the south side and battles the traffic daily on his drive downtown. “I think that we have to address the way that most people get to work, and that’s got to be our roadways.”

Four City Council members currently sit on CAMPO’s Policy Board, and Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Tovo feels council could have some influence on this long-range plan.

“We hope it will send a strong message that if City Council asks CAMPO to do what they did with the 2035 plan, and they did remove it,” said Tovo. “We’re asking that they remove it from the 2040 plan — continue their studies — but remove it for now.”

CAMPO’s Policy Board votes on this next week. Tovo said even if they do remove it, they could always add it back in as an amendment later on.

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