West Austin neighborhood businesses prepare for detoured MoPac drivers

Heavy traffic on MoPac Expressway (KXAN Photo)
Heavy traffic on MoPac Expressway (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As crews prepare to bring traffic to only one lane this weekend on southbound MoPac Expressway, businesses along neighborhood streets that run parallel to the highway — often used as detour roads during construction — are bracing for the likelihood of increased congestion.

The freeway will be down to one lane southbound between Ranch to Market 2222 and Enfield Road from Friday, Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. to Monday, Aug. 14 at 5 a.m. The Texas Department of Transportation is working to complete asphalt resurfacing in that area.

TxDOT suggests drivers avoid the area if possible this weekend. With that recommendation, it’s likely this could cause a backup for drivers and businesses on Shoal Creek, Balcones and Exposition Boulevard.

Tarrytown Pharmacy, located off of Exposition Boulevard, sees detour traffic first-hand.

“Especially during the peak times of the morning, in the evening, the road out here just gets packed. That’s not even with school being in session,” said Rannon Ching, the head pharmacist at the family store. “It can be potentially faster. It just depends on the timing of it and how many people are taking the same route as you are.”

Some Austin drivers say taking the neighborhood street detours is their best bet. “We don’t have an option. You have to get home and you can’t get on MoPac,” explained Peggy Pickle, a customer at Tarrytown Pharmacy.

With the annual tax free weekend officially underway for Texas shoppers at 12:01 a.m. Friday, the next three days may be even busier on city streets as shoppers head out to save on clothes, shoes and backpacks priced under $100.

Pickle says the three-day lane closure “isn’t bad,” adding she hopes the neighborhood will be understanding about the added detour traffic.

“I came to Tarrytown Pharmacy going North on MoPac, but I am staying away from the south lanes until Monday. I know better,” she added.

Traffic, to a degree, has just become a way of life for businesses and drivers, alike. The family-owned pharmacy says it prepares for construction and traffic.

Their biggest challenge? Home prescription delivery.

“We have to adjust the routes when our drivers go out to take prescriptions to people’s homes,” Ching said. “If you have to go to the patient’s house here, they live all the way near I-35, so, how is that going to affect us, or downtown traffic, or even going down south.”

Ching says the pharmacy strategically plans its routes for the delivery service — making sure to avoid traffic and construction, while successfully delivering the items to their patients in a timely manner.

“Traffic’s always on our minds. With our proximity to MoPac and all the construction, it really does affect us.”

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