Officials recently launched a study of Austin’s MoPac (SH Loop 1) to determine if two new express lanes could improve mobility.

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The MoPac Improvement Project would add an express lane in each direction between Cesar Chavez and Parmer Lane and construction of sound walls. The construction cost is estimated at $220 million.

The study has the backing of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the Texas Dept. of Transportation, the city of Austin and Capitol Metro. The goal is to provide un-tolled, congestion-free travel to public transit buses and registered vanpools. Individual motorists would have the option to use the express lanes and pay a toll. The toll rates would be adjusted depending on traffic levels in an effort to prevent the express lanes from becoming congested.

The project partners hope to have the environmental study completed by 2013.

Initial phases of the project are already under way. TxDOT is repaving a portion of MoPac using Permeable Friction Course. Once repaving is complete, TxDOT will restripe the lanes on northbound MoPac. The improvements will add a third northbound through lane.