October marked an important milestone for the MoPac Improvement Project, with the first section of the Express Lane now open to the traveling public. With this new option to bypass congestion, commuters are finally beginning to take back their time—and we couldn’t be more pleased to have a hand in reducing travel times for drivers. This is the first-of-its-kind congestion management tool to be introduced in the Austin area, and the first of many approved and proposed express lanes in the region. It’s not surprising to us that transportation agencies here and across the nation continue to turn to express lanes as an optimal choice to manage congestion.
On October 15th, the lane opened to traffic between RM 2222 and Parmer Lane, and drivers began taking advantage of the long-awaited option for a reliable route to their destination. How many drivers are enjoying free-flowing travel? We are averaging about 4,000 transactions a day since opening. The express lane takes approximately 900 cars out of the non-toll lanes every hour during peak travel, which offer congestion relief for all drivers. What took about 19 minutes on northbound MoPac from RM 2222 to Parmer Lane before the Express Lane opened, now takes about 6 minutes for those in the Express Lane and about 7 minutes for those in the non-toll lanes. Currently the time savings between the two lanes averages 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes. The variable toll rate remains 25-cents for most of the day and during parts of rush hour. As of the date of this blog, the average variable toll during peak hour is 53-cents. In addition, we’ve noted that 67% of those using the lane have used it once, which is in line with industry standards that express lanes are used when needed, not all the time. All these results are in line with our projections, especially as drivers adjust to a new traffic pattern.
As this is the first express lane in the Central Texas area, the traveling public will need time to adapt their habits and learn how the lane operates. We have made a push to educate drivers on how to use the lanes. Click here to see our video on how the lane works. This outreach will be an ongoing process over the coming months.
Now, our October opening was only a partial one, meaning that one of four total Express Lane segments on MoPac is now open to traffic. When the entire corridor is open, drivers will realize the full benefit of this congestion management tool. We, along with the community, have struggled as the project faced more construction delays than ever anticipated. My team is collaborating with the contractor on implementation of a recovery schedule and working diligently to complete the project. Full opening of this long-anticipated mobility improvement project truly is on the horizon for 2017. We appreciate the patience of the travelling public as we work to bring more reliability to this infamously congested corridor.
The Mobility Authority was built on a mission to bring you faster, safer and more reliable drive times throughout Central Texas, and to reconnect communities, businesses, and families. That’s why we are building the innovative mobility solutions that provide drivers with a choice to take back your time stuck in traffic. As MoPac moves forward, that choice is yours.