August 1, 2018

Expressway News

A Mobility Update

Delivering on our Commitment 

Connecting Central Texas to work, home, and play is our mission at the Mobility Authority. This year, we’ve worked hard to further that mission, and we have continued to deliver on our commitment to provide critically-needed infrastructure for Central Texans.

Mobility Authority Approves 2019 Budget and Outlines Priorities

In June, the Mobility Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved the operating budget for the 2019 fiscal year. The budget includes initiatives aimed at increasing electronic toll tag usage, strengthening driver information and communication, leveraging technology to enhance customer service and convenience, and exploring alternate modes of transportation.
The Mobility Authority’s 2018 Strategic Plan guided budget development. The Plan is updated on a biennial basis, pursuant to Sec. 370.261 of the Texas Transportation Code, and serves as a roadmap to ensure the agency advances its mission to “implement innovative, multimodal transportation solutions that reduce congestion and create transportation choices that enhance quality of life and economic vitality.”
Priority: Advancements for Pay By Mail Program
Beginning this winter, the Mobility Authority is upgrading its back-office vendor. With agency oversight, the vendor will manage the agency’s Pay By Mail video tolling program for customers that do not have electronic toll tags. As part of the transition, the Mobility Authority is developing a robust outreach program to improve our customers’ overall experience. The program will clarify billing and payment processes, encourage use of electronic toll tags, and introduce new toll payment options to meet customers’ varied needs.
The Mobility Authority accepts toll payments in a multitude of ways, but encourages electronic toll tags so customers can receive a 25 percent discount. We accept the following tags: TxDOT’s TxTag, NTTA’s TollTag, HCTRA’s EZ-TAG, and Kansas Turnpike Authority's K-Tag.
Customers can also use BancPass or PlusPass. These are two toll payment account options that provide consumers the convenience of a toll tag while managing their account, their way: cash reloadable option, no minimum balance, they choose how much, and when to reload.
Priority: Hassle Free Travel from State to State
The Mobility Authority is working on a national level to advance interoperability efforts that will increase the number of electronic toll tags accepted on Central Texas roadways, providing drivers the ability to travel on toll roads throughout the United States using a single transponder. Collaboration continues with Oklahoma, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
Priority: Delivering Solutions Beyond Roadways
Getting around in Central Texas means more than just a congestion-free route for vehicles. The Mobility Authority is exploring alternate modes of transportation and mobility solutions that extend beyond the single occupant vehicle. The Mobility Authority is working with regional partners to:

● Implement a regional Park & Ride system to encourage transit use and carpooling. Transit vehicles travel toll-free on Mobility Authority roadways.

● Develop regional mobility solutions using Traffic Demand Management initiatives to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles during peak travel times.

● Research new and alternative modes of travel and support regional efforts to prepare for the next generation of innovative technologies, such as automated and connected vehicles.

● Implement a roadway technology map that leverages intelligent transportation and connected vehicle systems, regional traffic management systems, queue and incident detection, and wrong-way driving detection to improve communication, reliability, and safety for drivers.

Construction Moves Forward

Drivers in southern Travis County are looking forward to the completion of SH 45SW, currently ahead of schedule for an opening in spring 2019. Construction is two-thirds complete. Crews have made significant progress this last quarter. Mainlane asphalt paving has continued from Bliss Spillar Road to Bear Creek, and the columns and beams for the bridge over Bear Creek have been placed. The concrete on all bridge decks has been poured. Crews completed the MoPac Interchange realignment from eastbound SH 45SW to northbound MoPac, and drivers are now using the new facility.

Bear Creek Bridge
The Mobility Authority continues to coordinate with the City of Austin and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District on construction activities. SH 45SW will bring immediate relief to drivers in Hays and southern Travis counties. Currently, commuters from Hays County use FM 1626 and arterial streets such as Brodie Lane, Manchaca Road, and Slaughter Lane to reach MoPac, creating severe congestion in South Austin neighborhoods. Once open, SH 45SW will redirect much of the commuting traffic off local roads and save drivers up to 17 minutes during rush hour.
Good Neighbor Program:
The SH 45SW community outreach team continues to keep area residents informed of upcoming construction activities. In May, the Mobility Authority sponsored and attended the Shady Hollow Summer Kick-Off Party in South Austin. More than 800 community members attended, and the outreach team shared construction updates with residents directly affected by construction. Attendees were eager to share their support for the project, and were thankful the project remains on schedule.

More than 800 people enjoyed live music, a petting zoo, rock climbing, a bounce house and a movie in the park at Shady Hollow Summer Kick-Off Party
Construction has kicked into high gear and significant activity is now occurring at every major intersection along the US 183 corridor. Earlier this year reconstruction of the Loyola Lane intersection began, and crews are busy excavating the tremendous amount of material necessary to build the new expressway underpass.
This spring the first stretch of the north and southbound general-purpose lanes between Manor Road and 51st Street opened, marking a major milestone toward the completion of the project.
In the months ahead crews are focused on completing the next stretch of general-purpose lanes between 51st Street and FM 969 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.) Northbound traffic will be shifted onto the new bridge over the Colorado River so reconstruction of the existing bridge can begin. A detour route is in place at Montopolis Drive where construction of a new bridge and an improved intersection with US 183 is underway.

Aerial view near Montopolis Drive
Left: Before construction (March 2016) Right: Present day (July 2018)
Good Neighbor Program:
The 183 South Good Neighbor Program sponsors community events and neighborhood activities as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to area residents for their patience during construction. This spring the Community Outreach Team sponsored a food truck and provided complimentary pizza and refreshments for neighborhoods along the corridor.

Neighborhood residents enjoy the Mobility Authority’s Good Neighbor Program food trucks and refreshments
In addition, the Good Neighbor to Business Program incentivizes project team employees to localize their spending on goods and services at businesses along the US 183 corridor. Nearly $27,000 in spending has been recorded at participating businesses since the program began last summer, and interest remains strong.

Improvements Under Development

With unprecedented growth in Williamson County, most notably in Leander, Cedar Park and Liberty Hill, traffic volumes along US 183 and 183A Toll are expected to increase by 166% over the next 25 years, driving a greater need for proactive congestion relief. As residential, retail and commercial growth continues in these communities along and north of the corridors, it is anticipated that congestion and safety conditions will only worsen and mobility will further decline unless something is done. Existing traffic congestion and mobility issues along this corridor create delays for emergency response vehicles and hinder citizens’ ability to get to their destinations in an efficient manner.
Once TxDOT authorizes the Mobility Authority to move forward and the roadway is completed, the improved 183 North corridor will provide a safer and reliable, time-saving option.
Constructing the third phase of 183A Toll will help relieve congestion, improve safety, and enhance mobility for residents and commuters from Cedar Park, Leander, and Liberty Hill. The 6-mile toll road will extend the existing 183A Toll road north from Hero Way to CR 213/258 (north of SH 29). Once the roadway is completed, the extended 183A Toll road will provide a reliable and time-saving option, spurring economic growth and development along the corridor. We anticipate moving this project forward into the environmental phase this fall.
The MoPac Expressway south of Cesar Chavez Street is a vital artery in Austin for commuters, neighbors, and visitors. This corridor provides a critical link to downtown Austin and other major highways such as US 290 and Capital of Texas Highway. Consistently ranked as one of the most congested roadways in Texas, it attracts up to 130,000 cars and trucks per day. This negatively impacts mobility and quality of life for the traveling public and adjacent neighborhoods. If we do nothing, drivers could spend an additional 35 minutes traveling the corridor by 2035.

Mobility Authority Moves Central Texas

The revenue collected when drivers use Central Texas toll roads does not go to Houston, Dallas, or any foreign company. It is reinvested right here in the Central Texas region and enables the Mobility Authority and TxDOT to continue developing reliable transportation options that improve quality of life and get you to your destination faster.
The Mobility Authority’s roadway system now includes 183A Toll, 290 Toll, 71 Toll Lane, and the MoPac Express Lane. These roadways continue to provide improved travel options that facilitate economic growth and improve quality of life for Central Texans. The MoPac Express Lane is continuing to provide a reliable travel choice that saves our customers up to 20 minutes or more on their commute.
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