CAMPO has approved funding to speed the construction of MoPac Expressway toll lanes on the 11-mile stretch from Cesar Chavez Street downtown to Parmer Lane in North Austin.
The Central Area Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board has approved a plan to fund $130 million of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s MoPac Improvement Project in exchange for the mobility authority depositing $230 million into a Regional Infrastructure Fund, to be used for other critical transportation projects in Central Texas.
The CAMPO funding will allow the mobility authority to avoid a bond sale and save more than $314 million in interest and principal payments that would have been due over the next 35 years. The funds will go to speed the construction of MoPac Expressway express lanes on the 11-mile stretch from Cesar Chavez Street downtown to Parmer Lane in North Austin.
“Central Texas has some of the worst traffic in the country, and we desperately need more money to improve mobility in critical corridors like MoPac and I-35,” said Will Conley, chairman of the CAMPO policy board.
The MoPac Improvement Project will begin design and construction in 2013. The project is currently undergoing a Federal Environmental Study which could be approved later this year.
The planned improvements include sound walls, bicycle and pedestrian improvements and aesthetic enhancements. The highway will also utilize variably priced tolls, which cost more during heavy traffic and less during off hours, to help improve traffic flow, officials said.
The arrangement should also help the mobility authority fund future projects, said Ray Wilkerson, chairman of the mobility authority.
“Rather than using toll revenue from the MoPac express lanes to pay back bond investors,” he said, “we’ll be able to allocate that money to critical transportation projects in Central Texas.