July Update

CTRMA and TxDOT continue to rush ahead to convert Mopac from a local commuter highway to a second, partially tolled Interstate 35 through Austin, in their less-than-honest, piecemeal way. At the same time, resistance to this piecemeal scheme continues to grow.

Public comments needed on “Mopac Intersections” draft environmental assessment: The CTRMA/TxDOT partnership is currently soliciting public comments on a draft environmental assessment (EA) on their “Mopac Intersections” piece of the proposed 45SW/Mopac expansion toll loop. This would be a two mile long addition of six lanes, three in each direction, in the central, currently green and beautiful median, from the southern end of Mopac to north of Slaughter Lane. This segment also includes overpass bridges crossing Mopac at Slaughter Lane and LaCrosse, converting the existing Mopac lanes into frontage roads in this two mile stretch.

This “Mopac Intersections” segment would connect the proposed SH 45 SW toll road to the south to the large “Mopac South” project to the north. It’s the “Mopac South” project that would include the double-decker bridge over Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake and connect to the “Mopac Improvement Project” toll lanes currently under construction from Cesar Chavez north to Parmer Lane.

Please take a few minutes to go HERE and send written comments on the draft “Mopac Intersections” environmental study by August 10. Attend a public hearing this Thursday, July 30, at Bowie High School

 

The truth comes out, and resistance grows: Meanwhile the basic truth of the CTRMA/TxDOT move to convert Mopac into a second I-35 continues to spill out into the light of day. The disclosure started over a year ago with a lawsuit by the Save Our Springs Alliance to uncover records of a closed-door “SH 45 SW” committee of CAMPO, our regional transportation decision-making body. The suit, and various public information requests, uncovered steps by CTRMA, Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, and Hays County officials to fast-track Phase I of SH 45 SW across the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone while concealing work behind the scenes on connecting SH 45 SW all the way to Interstate 35.

This “obfuscation by segmentation” strategy was further exposed when top regional transportation leader, CAMPO Chair and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley declared at a CAMPO meeting that, of course, they are building a complete tolled loop, connecting South Mopac to I-35.

One the one hand, CTRMA insists they are building “regional transportation systems.” Yet, in the same breathe, they tell us that 45SW, the “Mopac Intersections,” “Mopac South,” and “Mopac Improvement” projects are all stand-alone projects that have nothing to do with each other.

They also insist that each segment has “independent utility.” But we know that Mopac is already overwhelmed. It makes no sense to build SH 45 SW first, diverting I-35 traffic onto Mopac, before figuring out how to improve Mopac and implementing those improvements first. By rushing forward with SH 45 SW, Phase I, CTRMA and TxDOT will make Mopac traffic worse, not better. The same point can be made with the Mopac South project; dumping more “toll express” traffic onto Cesar Chavez at Austin High School without expanding Cesar Chavez into downtown makes no sense. We must figure out the bottlenecks first, not make them worse and move them around. The only way to do that is to study the entire 45SW/Mopac loop project comprehensively while taking a hard look at alternative investments that improve north-south commuting without converting Mopac into a second I-35.

The simple truth is that all of these segmented actions on Mopac and SH 45 SW are not for the benefit of current Mopac commuters. They are being designed to handle I-35 traffic, diverted to Mopac as an alternate I-35 interregional highway. This truth is coming out – and an expanding Keep Mopac Local community of voices will stand up against the CTRMA/TxDOT deception.

Please make a comment today – and stay informed and active in the weeks and months ahead. Beyond the current comment period on the “Mopac intersections” project, there will be important opportunities to be heard coming up in September and October.

Flint Ridge Cave Recharge


Video showing the Flint Ridge Cave recharge feature.

S5 Box