Mopac

  • Most immediately -- Keep Mopac Local supporters are urged to send an email by  May 9th to CAMPO and other local and state officials urging them to oppose including $100 million for SH 45 SW in the 2015 to 2018 CAMPO funding plan. Go to the TAKE ACTION button to send a single email to the relevant officials.

  • Public Comment / Public Hearing on draft Environmental Impact Statement for 45SW

    TxDOT and CTRMA are hosting a public hearing at Bowie High School at 5:00 PM on Tuesday July 29th to take public comment on their draft Environmental Impact Statement for 45SW. Written comments will be accepted through August 13th. Get more details here and please speak out.

    News Updates - TxDOT’s current schedule for the 45SW aquifer toll road would have the environmental review and public comment process completed by January / February 2015, with construction beginning in September / October 2015. As explained below, there are plenty of others working to stop this waste of $100 million of taxpayer funds.


  • Imagine Twelve Lanes of 24-hour, Interstate-35 Traffic on Mopac That’s the plan – if we don’t take action now

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    The proposed 12-lane Mopac toll plan includes a mile long double-decker bridge over Lady Bird Lake, through Zilker Park, and wrapping around Austin High School.  If built, it would dump toll paying commuters on already overloaded Cesar Chavez and West Fifth streets, while sending the rest of the traffic north to 183 and beyond, including back to I-35.  The proposal would add more than 60,000 new car trips per day onto Mopac, diverted from Interstate 35 by way of the proposed SH 45 SW toll road.

     The renderings above show the proposed double-deck toll lanes crossing Lady Bird Lake and on top of the Roberta Crenshaw hike-and-bike bridge, next to Austin High School. The pictures don’t show it all, but they do show some of the worst aspects of the proposed Mopac/SH 45 SW toll loop – enough to unite Mopac commuters, Austin High School parents and faculty, Mopac neighbors and all of those who love Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park, and Barton Springs as the Keep Mopac Local coalition. 

     Send an email message to our elected officials and consider a tax-deductible donation to support the Keep Mopac Local campaign.

    The threat posed by the double-decked toll bridge to one of the most beautiful and iconic spots in Austin is directing public attention to the larger plan to convert Mopac from a local commuter highway to an Interstate 35 bypass.

    The Mopac-to-I-35 loop project has been intentionally obscured by the fragmented, piecemeal action by our local toll road agency, the “CTRMA.” The CTRMA is still pretending that it is only looking at five pieces, or segments, of tolled roadway, that those pieces just happen to connect, end-to-end but they aren’t really building a Mopac/SH 45 SW toll loop.

    As shown on the map linked above,  the five segments are (1) Mopac north of Cesar Chavez (under construction, one new toll lane each way), (2) Cesar Chavez to Slaughter Lane (the now proposed 4 toll lanes, 2 each way, including the double-decked flyovers), (3) Slaughter Lane to SH 45 SW, called the “Mopac Intersections” project, (4) Phase I of SH 45 SW from Mopac to RM 1626, and (5) Phase II of SH 45 SW, from RM 1626 to I-35 and the SH 45 SE toll road. TxDOT is also building a Mopac bicycle bridge over the Barton Creek Greenbelt: when completed it will allow TxDOT and CTRMA to claim another lane for auto traffic, for a total of twelve (12) lanes.

    This is a terrible idea that will convert Mopac into an alternate I-35. It will make Austin uglier while making traffic worse.  This is a classic case of myopic toll road planners damaging a city in order to ”save" it.  

    It’s the wrong toll road in the wrong place at the wrong time.   Unplanned growth has produced big traffic problems for Austin, but this scheme won’t help; it will actually hurt the city.

    While other cities are dismantling freeways along their waterfronts, Austin will be pouring pavement on its own – and forcing the expansion of Cesar Chavez into Lady Bird Lake park.  Other cities, including Dallas, are working to remove ugly, polluting double-decked freeways within their urban areas, the CTRMA wants us to build a new one on top of Zilker and Lady Bird Lake parks and Austin High School. If built, it will do profound harm to our national image, as well as degrading the city’s beauty and our quality of life.  This is a classic case of killing the goose that laid the golden egg in the name of toll road “progress.”

    TxDOT’s own studies show that if their proposed Mopac/45SW toll road plan is built , they will divert a river of traffic from I-35 to MoPac, which will become the alternate route for regional north/south traffic through Austin.  As an I-35 bypass, a Mopac/SH 45 bypass would be nine miles shorter than the SH 130 bypass. For interregional traffic going to and from US 183, the proposed Mopac/SH 45 SW toll loop would become the preferred route.

    CTRMA argues that the four extra toll lanes are being proposed as a means of easing Austin traffic. In reality they will choke Central Austin traffic by pouring tens of thousands of extra cars onto Caesar Chavez and Fifth Streets, which cannot handle the traffic increase.  Because there’s not enough right-of-way on Fifth, the only way to “fix” this nightmare will be to widen Cesar Chavez St., paving more Lady Bird Lake park land and further ruining the tranquility and beauty of the lake.

    We are being asked to sacrifice our heritage and ruin the city’s quality of life so we can move Hays County toll traffic into the city faster and cut ten minutes off the drive time  between San Antonio and Dallas.
      

    “Pave Paradise and Put Up A Parking Lot” should be the honorary title of the South MoPac/SH 45 SW toll loop. It’s everything that Austin’s not supposed to be – paving our most treasured river front property, paving our most favored and iconic central city park, paving Austin High School, paving the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and paving endangered species habitats and critical recharge lands for the soul of Austin, Barton Springs.

    It doesn’t have to be this way! It’s time to tell the CTRMA and all of our local officials to stop the piecemeal study and construction of the Mopac/45SW tolled loop. The 4-toll lane Mopac proposal and the SH 45 SW Phase I segment should both be put on the shelf until we have an honest, comprehensive study of the entire Mopac/45SW loop project.

  • <p style="text-align: justify;"><strong><em>“If you connect Mopac over to Interstate 35 by building SH 45 Southwest, traffic on Mopac blows up.”</em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; --Mike Brown, transportation engineer, Metro Analytics</strong><br /><br />(For the fun part, go straight to our new, short videos of transportation engineer Mike Brown talking about what building SH45 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.)<br /><br />Here’s a more detailed summary of where we are as of late October 2014:<br /><br />In October, 45SW proponents pushed to tie up $15 million in non-voter approved Travis Co. debt for the proposed 45SW aquifer toll road before a new Commissioner’s Court takes office in January.&nbsp; <br /><br />But otherwise, the project – and the larger 45SW / expanded Mopac loop – faces growing public opposition and legal hurdles. The toll road authority (CTRMA) and TxDOT hope to gain approvals for the project in early 2015 and initiate construction in late 2015, but that plan seems less likely every day.</p>
    <hr id="system-readmore" />
    <p style="text-align: justify;">The U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife Service, the City of Austin, and experts for the Keep Mopac Local coalition and Save Our Springs Alliance all filed lengthy technical objections to literally hundreds of scientific and legal deficiencies in TxDOT’s environmental review of the proposed SH 45 SW toll road.&nbsp; <br /><br />Read the U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife Service comments on TxDOT’s draft environmental review <a href="/phocadownload/fwssh%2045sw%20deis%20comments-1.pdf" target="_blank"><strong>here</strong></a>.<br /><br />Wade through the more than 500 comments of the City of Austin <a href="/phocadownload/coa%20comments%20on%20deis.pdf" target="_blank"><strong>here</strong></a>.<br /><br />Read comments from KML consultant Dr. Lauren Ross, environmental engineer, <strong><a href="/phocadownload/dr.%20ross%20eisreview20140813%203.pdf" target="_blank">here</a></strong>.<br /><br />Read comments from conservation biologist, Dr. Hayley Gillespie, <strong><a href="/phocadownload/gillespie_es_sh45eis_comments.pdf" target="_blank">here</a></strong>.<br /><br />Read comments from KML transportation experts Norman Marshall and Mike Brown <strong><a href="/phocadownload/marshall%20sh%2045%20deis%20comments%20v1.pdf" target="_blank">here </a></strong>and <strong><a href="/phocadownload/shared%20solution%20alternative%20to%20mopac-sh45sw%20loop%20august%202014.pdf" target="_blank">here</a></strong>.<br /><br />TxDOT claims it expects to complete a final environmental review by January 2015 and then initiate final project design. But new caves are being found along the right of way and basic field research has yet to be completed.<br /><br />On October 16th a 6-to-1 Austin City Council majority voted to instruct city lawyers to explore the City’s legal options on the proposed 45SW/expanded Mopac loop. On the same day the Council also instructed city transportation staff to report back in November on ways to improve traffic flow on Brodie Lane.&nbsp; Since traffic counts show that roughly 80 percent of traffic on Brodie south of Slaughter Lane is local, neighborhood traffic, the council observed that improvements to Brodie would be helpful regardless of the future of the proposed SH 45 SW.<br /><br />Also of note, while TxDOT and CTRMA continue to push the piecemeal extension of 45SW and expansion of Mopac in separate but simultaneous environmental and public input processes, their mopacsouth.com website has not been updated since April and their sh45sw.com website has not been updated since August. (So much for keeping the community informed.)<br /><br />Please stay informed here at KeepMopacLocal.org. And if you have not already, please send a message to our state and local officials urging them to halt the proposed 45 SW project until there is a comprehensive study of the environmental, traffic, and financial costs of the entire, proposed 45SW/expanded Mopac loop – from I-35 at SH 45 SE across to the southern end of Mopac and up to Cesar Chavez.<br /><br />The real project is a loop. This basic fact should be acknowledged and studied before diverting more traffic from I-35 to Mopac. An honest study will tell&nbsp; us that we should keep mopac as a local commuter traffic rather than convert it to an Interstate 35W alternative.</p>
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  • The Latest Truths and Mysteries  About Our Least Favorite Proposed Toll Road

    KeepMopacLocal supporters, as well as opponents who want to build “it” now, are generally aware that last September our CAMPO transportation officials announced that the latest traffic modeling for the proposed SH45 SW, contained “errors” and would not be released to the public as promised. CAMPO Board Chair and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley promised to “get to the bottom” of the errors, but there has been no report of his promised investigation.

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  • Just tell them “No more traffic on Mopac!”

    You can send in comments now through October 18 at this link. This is only the beginning of a new “state” Environmental Impact Study process, but it is important to tell the CTRMA now that: 1) There is no such thing as a green toll road over the recharge zone for Texas’ most vulnerable aquifer; 2) There should be no more traffic on Mopac (TxDOT’s own analysis shows that if built the road would dump up to 30,000 more cars per day on South Mopac); and 3) Commuters from eastern Hays county should never be diverted to the west, on top of the aquifer and onto an already overcrowded Mopac.

Flint Ridge Cave Recharge


Video showing the Flint Ridge Cave recharge feature.

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