April 19, 2018

Expressway News

Happy Earth Day from the Mobility Authority

This Sunday we celebrate Earth Day—a time to remember the importance of protecting our environment, a time to give thanks for the bountiful natural resources entrusted to us, and a time to demonstrate our efforts toward preserving the ecosystem we are fortunate to have.

As an agency charged with enhancing quality of life and economic vitality through innovative and sustainable transportation options, we must balance the need for new infrastructure with preservation of our environment. Our work is crucial to maintaining our region’s vibrancy. We take that responsibility seriously, striving to achieve a delicate balance in all we do. 


Partnering with TreeFolks to Expand
our Tree Canopy

Our longtime sponsorship of TreeFolks, a Central Texas non-profit committed to tree planting and education, is aligned with our mission to preserve our region’s natural resources, and we are proud to support the meaningful work they do to expand our urban tree canopy.

We recently partnered with TreeFolks and NXP, a major employer located along the 183 South corridor, to sponsor the installation of an irrigation system at Norman Elementary School. In December, we held a community tree planting event at the school where students, project team members and NXP employees planted shade trees, fruit trees and spread mulch.

The TreeFolks mission is to empower Central Texans to build stronger communities through planting and caring for trees. Planting at schools is particularly important because it creates places for kids to naturally congregate. This encourages more quality time spent outdoors, and in turn, greater exposure to natural greenspaces, which promotes cognitive development and reduces the risk of childhood obesity, attention disorders and depression in children. 

For TreeFolks, watering is often the primary barrier to realizing that mission. Norman Elementary School previously did not have a watering system in place, so the new irrigation system we helped provide will keep the newly planted trees watered throughout the year, greatly increasing their chances for survival.

Tree planting event at Norman Elementary School 
SH 45SW: Environmentally Sensitive By Design
Currently under construction is the SH 45SW project in southwest Travis County, a greenfield project that was collaboratively designed together with community partners. We worked with Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department, Travis County and the Texas Department of Transportation to ensure the project design improves mobility while minimizing our environmental footprint. Through thoughtful planning and careful construction, we are well on our way to providing relief to northern Hays and southwest Travis county commuters. 

The SH 45SW project is more than halfway complete and remains on schedule for completion in 2019. 

The new four-lane toll road will improve mobility in the rapidly-growing area of northern Hays and southern Travis counties. When construction is complete, commuting traffic will be redirected off local roads such as Manchaca Road, Slaughter Lane and Brodie Lane which will better equip these arterials to serve the surrounding neighborhoods. Drivers could save as much as 17 minutes in travel time by using SH 45SW to access MoPac. 

Direct Connector Construction on the MoPac Interchange

The Mobility Authority has taken significant measures to ensure minimal impact to the area by using “green” alternative methods and designs. Some of the methods include the use of water quality ponds, specialized asphalt to reduce water pollution, and aligning the roadway to avoid impacts to Edwards Aquifer recharge features.

Placement of vegetative cover protects the water quality by absorbing stormwater runoff
The project includes a 4.5-mile, 10-foot wide shared use path that will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to safely use the facility. The new facility will eventually link to the Violet Crown Trail and will feature a trailhead with parking at the MoPac and SH 45SW Interchange and at Bliss Spillar Road. As bicyclists and pedestrians travel the path, they can enjoy the tree-lined scenery and rest at the Hill Country Classroom, a shaded trail kiosk, while viewing interpretive signage. 

We are proud to incorporate these environmentally-sensitive features into the projects we are developing for the region, ensuring greater mobility for all users of the corridor.