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North MoPac toll lanes get go-ahead

$200 million project to be completed by 2016

AUSTIN (KXAN) – There’s no such thing as a free ride — or so it seems when it comes to addressing some of the most heavily congested highways in Greater Austin.

The Central Texas Mobility Authority announced Thursday that construction on toll lanes on MoPac Boulevard from Downtown to Parmer Lane will begin next year and should be finished by 2016.

The $200 million project will include one northbound toll lane, one southbound toll lane, seven miles of sound walls, $5 million worth of bicycle and pedestrian improvements and more than $3 million in landscaping and other enhancements.

“Thanks to an incredible partnership between the Mobility Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation , the City of Austin and the Federal Highway Administration, we delivered on our promise to rapidly bring improvements to the MoPac corridor,” said Ray Wilkerson, chairman of the Mobility Authority.

Public transit buses and registered van pools will be able to use the new toll lanes for free. Individual drivers who wish to use the lanes will pay a toll.

The toll rate will increase when traffic is heavy and go down when traffic is light to help ensure the lanes don’t become congested. The existing lanes on MoPac will remain toll-free.

The south segment of MoPac, meanwhile, will also get some long-awaited relief. The Texas Department of Transportation said the northbound to eastbound flyover at U.S. Highway 290 West to Mopac will open sometime by predawn on Friday. The westbound to southbound flyover will not open until late October or November.

“It’s going to be a great advantage to the southwest Austin area,” said Gretchen Palmer, who was driving in the area on Thursday. “Having so much traffic down here, and finally putting this in here, is going to make it a lot easier to get around.”

Click here to view the original article courtesy of KXAN.

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