MoPac traffic snarl getting $53 million fix

The intersection of MoPac and Slaughter Lane is one of two southwest Austin intersections that is getting an overhaul to improve traffic flow and reduce how long drivers have to wait to get through the traffic lights. (Graphic: TXDOT)

One of MoPac's biggest traffic snarls is about to get a $53 million fix. The intersection of MoPac and Slaughter Lane in southwest Austin is a rush-hour nightmare. On Friday, drivers got their first look at TxDOT’s plan to untangle the mess from Slaughter Lane south to La Crosse Avenue.

Head south on MoPac and it's possible to zip along at 65 miles per hour until you hit Slaughter Lane.

That's where traffic lights and brake lights have drivers seeing red.

“Two, three, four lights before you get though Slaughter Lane at MoPac, which is ridiculous,” said Gerard Moran.

On Friday, dozens of drivers in southwest Austin got a detailed look at the $53 million project to fix two busy intersections. Right now traffic on MoPac comes to a stop when it intersects with traffic on Slaughter Lane and further south on La Crosse Avenue. But the level ground at the intersections is about to become very uneven. A TxDOT video shows how drivers on Slaughter Lane will be taken over MoPac on a soon to be constructed bridge. MoPac drivers will be moved to new lanes that will tunnel through a lower area now covered with brush and trees. The expansion allows drivers to bypass two intersections.

“It will save minutes each trip and cumulatively that will cut travel times,” said Terry McCoy, district engineer for TxDOT.

McCoy says efficiency could go up by as much as 50 percent.

We asked driver Carol Koester how long she's waiting at the intersections now.

“It probably adds 10 to 15 minutes just waiting at the intersections,” said Koester.

The changes could cut that time to five to seven minutes. It's not perfect, but for some drivers it's close enough.

“They can't start it soon enough,” said Koester.

Construction will begin later this month and is expected to be complete in about three years, in early 2021.

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