Traffic mess expected as southbound MoPac lanes close for weekend

Southbound MoPac lanes will be closed this weekend so crews can repave lanes with a safer and quieter asphalt. (Photo: Bettie Cross)

Friday night is the beginning of what is expected to be a weekend-long traffic mess on MoPac in west Austin. Construction crews are closing multiple lanes on MoPac, reducing the highway to one southbound lane. The closures will extend from RM 2222 in north Austin to Enfield Road in central Austin. By closing the lanes crews will be able to work round-the-clock to scrape off the old asphalt on MoPac and replace it with a safer and quieter surface. But for some Austin drivers the trade-off isn't worth it.

52 years ago MoPac wasn't here, but John Trube certainly was.

"I'm disgusted by the whole mess," said Trube.

The longtime Austinite has burned through lots of gas and all of his patience dealing with the latest MoPac improvement project.

"We're sick of the taxes. We're sick of the delays and the overspending and the overscheduling and the excuses … they keep shoving down our throats. Tired of it,” said Trube.

And there's no telling what the real estate developer will think after this weekend.

“We're expecting significant travel delays on southbound MoPac,” said Steve Pustelnyk, spokesperson for the MoPac Project.

Pustelnyk only needs three words to tell drivers what to do from late Friday through early Monday morning.

“Just avoid it,” said Pustelnyk.

From RM 2222 to Enfield Road, southbound MoPac will be reduced to just one lane. So a drive that took CBS Austin eight minutes Friday afternoon could potentially seem endless.

“We're doing everything we can to get the northbound lanes open by late September and the remainder of the southbound lanes open by sometime in October,” said Pustelnyk.

Trube isn't sold.

“Why should we have to suffer because of their screw-ups,” said the man who has lived in Austin 52 years.

The MoPac express lanes were originally scheduled to open two years ago, in the fall of 2015. Trube thinks it's payback time.

“I would suggest they give us some credit on our accounts, on our toll tags, for the inconvenience and just the sheer madness they've caused our community the last two years,” said Trube. “I know they'll never do it. But it's worth the ask, right?”

Other than repaving MoPac, crews don't have a lot of work to do before they can remove the barrels and barricades along the highway and open the express lanes. There will still be quite a bit of cosmetic work left to finish, but the variable rate toll lanes will be open.

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