AUSTIN (KXAN) — After years of waiting and sitting through the increasing traffic congestion, one portion of the MoPac Express Lane Project is now open to drivers.
Joining us in the KXAN studio is Mike Heiligenstein, the Executive Director with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
The project is more than a year behind schedule, but the northbound toll lane from Ranch to Market 2222 to Parmer Lane is officially open.
Testing out the express lane over the weekend Heiligenstein said “it felt really good, it rode smooth and I was going really fast, but the weekend is not really the time to test this thing, it’s going to be this afternoon with our peak hours there.”
For the past few weeks, ads have been running telling drivers about the new lanes and their intended use. The ad explains the express lanes are not meant for everyday use, rather they are meant for occasions when you can’t afford to be late.
The toll rate will fluctuate depending on the number of cars in the express lane. If there are more cars using the toll, the price goes up to encourage less people to use the tolls.
The toll lanes were originally scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2015. The project has been delayed numerous times due to a variety of problems ranging from the discovery of a small cave to issues related to weather.
When will the rest of the project be completed?
“The big thing is in the late spring when we open the entire facility to all traffic that’s the big milestone we’re all looking for,” said Heiligenstein.
The project contractors are facing up to $20 million in penalties for not having the project completed by the original deadline. So many are asking if they can finish by the spring of 2017. To ensure the project isn’t delayed any more, Heiligenstein said additional contractors have been added to the construction crews.