Morning rush hour tests new southbound MoPac Express Lane

Cars using the southbound toll of MoPac Express Lane. (KXAN Photo)
Cars using the southbound toll of MoPac Express Lane. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The southbound MoPac express toll lane is open for the first morning rush hour commute Monday. Four years after construction started, and two years after it was supposed to be complete, the toll lane that runs from Parmer to Cesar Chavez could bring some much needed traffic relief.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority officially opened the lane Saturday just like they did with the northbound side two weeks ago. It was an effort to give drivers a chance to check out the lane over the weekend and allow the CTRMA the opportunity to test the equipment that monitors traffic and toll rates to make sure all is working prior to the morning rush hour.

Unlike the northbound lanes, southbound traffic is heavy for both the morning and evening rush hour.

“There’s a strong demand for southbound travel in the evening and we don’t see that demand in the northbound lanes in the morning on Mopac,” says Steve Pustelnyk, CTRMA Community Relations Director.

According to CTRMA, the northbound express lanes that opened on Oct. 15 has seen a huge demand.

“We have so many cars going in at the entrance there is a slight slow down there as cars merge, but once they get past that and the speeds pick up and we are seeing speeds in the 55 to 60 mile per hour range at peak rush hour which is great,” Pustelnyk says. “Occasionally we are seeing a few slow downs here or there but we are doing everything we can to keep traffic moving.”

There have been other delays like a car breaking down in the lane, but Pustelnyk says crews monitoring the traffic cameras have spotted it and had a tow truck remove the car within 10 minutes.

Capital Metro plans to start running its buses on the express lane starting mid-November. The first bus will be route 980 that runs from the Round Rock Transit Center to downtown and makes a stop at the New Life Church Park & Ride by Howard Lane. Capital Metro says it will then add more routes in January as it works out new operations and bus schedules.

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