Expressway News

April 10, 2019

Mobility Authority Focuses on Worker and
Driver Safety in Work Zones

National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week is April 8-12, 2019

Each spring, National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is held by the Federal Highway Administration to bring coast-to-coast attention to motorist and worker safety and other mobility issues in highway construction work zones.
The push to shine the spotlight on work zone safety was prompted by the many tragic injuries and deaths that occur annually in work zones all over the country as drivers rush to get through the lane closures to their destinations on time. In fact, federal research shows that speed was a contributing factor in almost 29 percent of 2017 fatal work zone crashes.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (Mobility Authority) is a partner in the national effort, but considers it a year-round priority locally to provide safety tips to drivers learning to navigate through changing traffic patterns.
“We know that new traffic patterns can be confusing for drivers who are accustomed to making the same movements on the roadways they travel every day,” said Mobility Authority Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein. “While the new lanes we build in our various projects help reduce congestion, there is definitely a driver learning curve.”
When the MoPac Express Lane opened in 2017, the Mobility Authority issued “MoPac Safety Tips” through the media and on our website, explaining new traffic patterns and merge conditions. Message boards and other signage guided motorists through the area.
With US 183 undergoing extensive renovation on Austin’s east side from US 290 to SH 71, the Mobility Authority continues to emphasize worker and driver safety.
We recommend these important safety tips for those driving through area work zones:
Plan ahead. Work zones account for an estimated 10 percent of overall congestion and nearly 24 percent of unexpected freeway delays. Expect delays, plan ahead, and leave early to reach your destination on time. Avoid work zones altogether when possible by using alternate routes.
Obey road crews and signs. When approaching a work zone, watch for cones, barrels, signs, large vehicles or workers in bright-colored vests to warn you and direct you where to go. Slow down. Look for signs indicating the speed limit through the work zone. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you and follow the posted speed limit.
Move over. Most state move-over laws apply when passing work crews and official vehicles parked on the shoulder with flashing warning lights.
Avoid distractions. Keep your eyes on the road and off your phone.
Watch for sudden stopping of traffic. In 2017, 25 percent of fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions.
Watch for large vehicles. Don’t make sudden lane changes in front of trucks and watch for construction vehicles and equipment turning onto the road from the work zone. In 2017, 50 percent of fatal work zone crashes involving large trucks or buses occurred on rural roadways. Between 2013 and 2017, fatal work zone crashes involving large trucks increased by 43 percent.
The goal, said Heiligenstein, is to get everyone home safely to their families every day.
Follow the Mobility Authority on Facebook and Twitter for driving tips for the entire month of April.
 To download a fact sheet on Dangers of the Work Zone, click here.

45SW Opening This Spring
Grand Opening Community Celebration Planned for Saturday, May 18

Drivers in northern Hays and southern Travis counties are about to experience a more reliable route into the heart of Austin. 
The innovative new 45SW Toll Road will open next month in south Austin. Two lanes in each direction will provide drivers ample capacity, creating a reliable new connection between MoPac and FM 1626. The project was constructed with environmental sensitivity at the forefront, and is expected to save drivers time while protecting the environment. The perfect facility to highlight as we prepare to celebrate our world and our earth later this month on Earth Day.  
45SW was constructed using Best Management Practices that exceed water quality standards to protect the sensitive Edwards Aquifer by providing 98 percent removal of the increase in total suspended solids over the recharge zone. This goes above and beyond the required 80 percent in the state of Texas. This was accomplished by using elements such as permeable friction course (a porous roadway surface), water quality ponds, vegetative controls, hazardous material traps, protective barriers around critical recharge features and grading as well as other actions taken during construction to minimize environmental disturbance. With construction practices, observation and 24/7 on-site environmental compliance monitoring, this project has exceeded industry standards and serves as a model by which other projects will follow. 
You can learn more about the environmentally-sensitive features of this roadway and how you’ll be able to enjoy nature along the corridor’s shared use path on the project website.
The grand opening jubilee will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Live music, food and activities will be provided for all. More information will be available on as the date nears.
Drivers with an electronic tag (TxTag, BancPass, TollTag, or EZ Tag) will drive toll-free on 45SW through May 31, 2019.

Qualified Veterans Drive Toll-Free on Select Roadways 

Mobility Authority initiated the Qualified Veteran’s Discount Program in November 2018 to enable disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, and Legion of Valor or Medal of Honor recipients to ride free on participating facilities. Since program inception, enrollment in the program and the number of waived toll transactions has climbed month-after-month, demonstrating that more and more qualified veterans are registering to take advantage of the benefits the program provides.  

“Veterans have provided a great service to us, and we want to do everything we can to show our appreciation for the sacrifice that was made for our country’s safety,” Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director said.
To register for the program, visit our website