March 2015 Update
March 2015 Update
“If you connect Mopac over to Interstate 35 by building SH 45 Southwest, traffic on Mopac blows up.”
--Mike Brown, transportation engineer, Metro Analytics
Consultant to KeepMopacLocal.org
The campaign to Keep Mopac Local is now heating up. The next six months will likely determine whether the Austin community has a real voice in deciding whether or not Mopac is converted into Interstate 35 West -- bringing interstate-scale traffic and noise into west and southwest Austin. Your voice and participation are needed to keep Mopac local, keep I-35 traffic on I-35, and protect Barton Springs.
Limited transportation dollars should be spent first improving I-35 and supporting development in our preferred growth corridor, between I-35 and SH 130.
Our friends at TxDOT and CTRMA are slowly being exposed for their “hiding in plain sight” ruse of building a Mopac expansion/SH 45 SW tolled loop while pretending that they are not building a tolled loop. For public consumption and environmental review purposes, they have chopped up the
They only look at each piece, pretending as if they stand alone and do not add up to the real, tolled loop project. By looking only at the pieces, they assume the whole will be built without ever actually examining the proposal as a loop.
Recent press attention to the divide-and-conquer approach was triggered by CTRMA and TxDOT hosting an “open house” meeting on that portion of the tolled loop that would run from Cesar Chavez across Lady Bird Lake and down to Slaughter Lane. The proposal includes a double decker bridge over the lake to accommodate “direct connector” lanes funneling traffic to Cesar Chavez and downtown. You can view proposed detailed designs and design schematics from the February 26th meeting here.
Please take a minute today at this link and send a single email to TxDOT, CTRMA, and our local officials. Urge them to study the whole loop proposal as one project, before building any part of it; to keep I-35 traffic on I-35, to keep Mopac a local commuter highway, and to not build a double decker toll bridge over Lady Bird Lake.
You can read more from the Austin Statesman from February reports here, here, and here.
More News: In late January TxDOT approved the so-called final “state” EIS for phase I of SH 45 SW. Pursuant to a public information request from Save Our Springs Alliance, CTRMA/TxDOT finally released their geological assessment of the proposed SH 45 SW route over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. As before, the assessment downplays the significance of numerous caves and sinkholes that feed rainfall and runoff directly into the aquifer.
The junk science from the draft EIS got worse, not better. CTRMA contractors are now doing the detailed designs for the proposed toll road with their goal being to initiate construction at the end of this year.
Also in February, Austin’s new mayor, Steve Adler, wrote a letter to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service informing the Service of the City’s continued opposition to SH 45 SW and urging the federal agency to give prompt guidance on whether the 45SW toll road would violate applicable federal permits and endangered species laws. Mayor Adler and six of the ten new council members took firm positions against SH 45 SW during last fall’s campaign.
Please stay tuned and spread the word to friends and family to join in demanding that we study the whole 45SW/Mopac expansion tolled loop proposal as a loop project, along with alternatives, before building any part of the proposed toll loop.
Also, if you have not already, check out our short videos of transportation engineer Mike Brown talking about what building SH 45 SW would do to Mopac traffic and of rainfall runoff flowing into the spectacular Flint Ridge Cave. TxDOT and Travis County have a legal obligation to protect Flint Ridge Cave as a preserve, yet the proposed road would pass directly above the cave and cut through the bowl that drains to the mouth of the cave.)
For more details on what U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, City of Austin and Save Our Springs Alliance experts had to say about the SH 45 SW draft EIS, read our October 2014 update and the links therein.