MoPac express lane tunnel may open this month

The tunnel from West 6th Street and West Cesar Chavez St to the NB Mopac Express Lane nears completion. (Photo: CTRMA)

Drivers on MoPac are getting closer to having a full-length express lane from downtown all the way past Hwy 183. And that's despite days of hard rains from the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey.

The mobility authority heard Wednesday the northbound express lane -- including the tunnel -- should open this month and the south lane should be finished in October or November. Steve Puselnyk with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, or CTRMA, says, “We expect to have all the lanes repaved and then to be able to open the northbound express lane by the end of September."

Harvey's rains didn't cause too much delay for the project, and when the tunnels open they'll include improvements to handle Harvey-size rains. Puselnyk says, “We have really good drainage systems in there. They're designed for 50-year flood events. So it really takes something on the magnitude of what Houston got before we might have a problem with those underpasses."

There will also be improved fire safety. Puselnyk says, “We call it a fire suppression system but it's really a water supply for the fire department in case they need to get in there and fight a fire that might occur in the underpass.

There will still be some pesky lane closures before they're done. For instance, the onramp from RM 2222 to southbound Mopac is going to be closed all of this weekend for paving work. So plan accordingly.

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