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Expressway News

June 1, 2020


Last June, the Mobility Authority established a brand-new connection for southwest Travis County and northern Hays County commuters with the opening of the 45SW Toll Road. More than 400 community members and local officials came together to celebrate the toll road’s completion which delivers much-needed congestion relief to South Austin drivers.

A year later, there continues to be much to celebrate.

The road is the first in the region to feature wrong-way driving technology that uses a warning system to monitor and detect wrong-way entrants. This innovative technology then deploys countermeasures to notify drivers and first responders of incidents.

The 45SW Toll Road and project team continue to receive industry awards—a testament to the high standard of quality that guided the development of this innovative project. To date, honors have been received from the following organizations:

  • American Council of Engineering Companies, Texas Chapter: Gold in the Environmental category, and Silver in the Water Resources category
  • American Public Works Association: Technical Innovation award 
  • International Partnering Institute: Collaborative Project of the Year award
  • National Asphalt Pavement Association: Quality in Construction award 
  • AT&T and Government Technology Special Districts Program: Technology Innovation Award

An Industry-Leading Model in Stormwater Management
Arguably the project’s greatest achievement, however, has been in environmental preservation and stormwater management. From conception through design and construction of the expressway, the Mobility Authority used Best Management Practices (BMPs) meant to protect the sensitive Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone and ensure water quality protection.

Today, the 45SW Toll Road is an industry-leading model for environmentally responsible roadway construction.


Why is Water Quality Important?
Protecting the quality of our water is a cornerstone of a healthy human and natural environment. We often take for granted that the water we drink is safe, but safe drinking water starts with maintaining a clean water source. 

For much of Central Texas, that source is the Edwards Aquifer. Not only does it support the health of roughly 2 million residents, but the aquifer also sustains our regions’ industries and agriculture.

Water is a resource that is essential to all parts of life. Aside from its effects on human health, the quality of this groundwater resource is intimately linked to the natural environment. Our ecosystem health relies on a delicate and complex system of interactions between water quality, animals, plants, and fungi, among other things.

What Impacts Water Quality? 
Many variables impact our water sources, however human activities are most often the greatest contributor to poor water quality. And water pollution doesn’t just affect humans and the environment locally; in fact, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association estimates that 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based sources. Sources of contamination include:

  • Pesticides
  • Nutrients
  • Bacteria
  • Sediment from runoff
  • Heavy metals
  • Chemical spills
How Does the Mobility Authority Help to Maintain Water Quality?
The Mobility Authority places a high importance on maintaining and improving water quality in the areas surrounding its highway system and across Central Texas. On the 45SW Toll Road, for example, the Mobility Authority implemented numerous BMPs into the design, construction, and maintenance of the road to reduce stormwater runoff and erosion.

Part of the project design included the development of a Water Pollution Abatement Plan (WPAP) which details both temporary and permanent stormwater runoff control measures. 

Temporary BMPs installed prior to construction, included sediment control fencing, biodegradable erosion control logs, rock berms, sediment traps, inlet protection features, and stabilized construction access features, all helping to reduce the amount of pollutants storm waters carry from entering rivers, streams, and other adjoining waterways.

Permanent BMPs, which are designed to continue reducing sedimentation and pollution after the completion of the road, include water quality detention ponds, vegetative filter strips, vertical sand filters, diversion dikes, grassy swales, and permanent restricted zones near sensitive areas.

The roadway was also constructed using permeable friction course pavement, a porous roadway surface with filtration, glare reduction, and other benefits that have proven effective on MoPac.

Beyond these measures, the Mobility Authority took a holistic approach to the road’s construction with mindful construction practices and 24/7 on-site environmental compliance monitoring. These efforts included phased construction, containment areas for fuel and hazardous material storage, as well as buffers around sensitive karst features and water crossings. The use of pesticides and herbicides was also prohibited during construction and continues to be prohibited for maintenance of the roadway.

In 2018, the Mobility Authority was awarded the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Champion Award for its investment in sustainability, innovation, and leadership in the transportation industry, most notably due to the SH 45SW Project.

Our Commitment to Environmental Stewardship
The 45SW Toll Road is an example of the Mobility Authority’s commitment to developing innovative transportation solutions that protect our region’s natural resources. We continue to incorporate sustainable design initiatives in our projects, allowing us to minimize our environmental footprint while reinvesting in our community. To read more about how we’re raising the bar on what it means to be “green,” please visit our website.

What Can You Do to Help?

If you have input on water quality, have observed a spill, or have any other environmental concerns along one of our roadways, contact us!

You can contact us at (512) 996-9778 or visit our website.  


Groundwater, karst features, the Edwards Aquifer – oh my! It’s all fascinating and a great lesson for kids on the importance of water quality and protecting our environment. That’s why we’re pleased to offer you these downloadable activity pages inspired by the Edwards Aquifer.

In addition, we’ve also released an augmented reality (AR) mobile app to help tell the story of the region based on signs located along the 45SW trail. Since you may not be able to get out to the trail right now, we decided to bring the trail to you!

Simply download the free app, Trail Explorer by CTRMA, in your phone’s app store to give your family a fun and interactive experience! Follow the directions in the app and use your phone’s camera to trigger the augmented reality animations from the brackets found in these images. Scan right from your computer or tablet screen or print from your home printer. Imagine a live oak tree growing in your living room or a mosasaur swimming in your backyard!

We know the list of enticing at-home activities for kids is looking slim these days. We hope these activities offer your family some fun, educational relief.

Need more information?
Visit our website
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