As Austin traffic worsens, MoPac Improvement Projects aims to provide a solution

Anthony Green

In a recent study of traffic patterns across the globe, conducted by traffic services group INRIX Incorporated, Austin surpassed New York as the city with the fourth worst traffic in America. Transit developments like the MoPac Improvement Project will aim to fix to that. 

The MoPac Improvement Project is a transit development project fostered by a partnership between the Texas Department of Transportation and Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. The completed project will add express lanes, sound walls and bicycle and pedestrian facilities to MoPac highway from Cesar Chavez Street going north to Parmer Lane. 

“There’s no one-size-fits-all to traffic solutions, but it’s going to be a very important step in untangling the congestion we have in the city area,” said spokesman Chris Bishop of the Austin Branch of the Texas Department of Transportation.

Traffic problems within Austin are nothing new, but have recently become more severe, with INRIX reporting that Austin has jumped from eigth to fourth in traffic congestion nationally since 2011. 

Biology sophomore Danielle Hamilton, a native resident of Austin, has long experienced the woes of the local rush hour. 

“The traffic is ridiculous,” Hamilton said. “If I were to be going to an interview and needed to take the highways, I would have to leave like 20 minutes earlier than usual.”

The escalating number of traffic problems may be largely attributed to the influx of new residents attracted by the local economic boom. 

“I think when you look at the economic data, Austin is one of the fastest growing and economically vibrant places in the country.” said Steve Pustelnyk, director of Community Relations for the MoPac Improvement Project. “When you have that sort of situation you’re going to have more people on the road, which creates additional challenges in regards to mobility for new and longstanding residents of the area.” 

Zack Buschmann, a computer science sophomore who frequently visits his brother in North Austin off MoPac, said he would be enthusiastic about any effort to improve the commuter experience.

“Any kind of improvement project for the roads here has my support,” Buschmann said. “I just hope the project sticks to its timetable — lots of roads around here seem to just be perpetually under construction.” 

Pustelnyk said he is hopeful Austin commuters will begin experiencing less severe traffic in the near future.

“We expect drivers to be taking advantage of the new facilities in late 2015,” Pustelnyk said.