Crashes increase in Mopac construction zone - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Crashes increase in Mopac construction zone

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As Austin's population continues to grow, so does our traffic congestion.

You can clearly see one of the major problem areas in this Air 1 chopper video...Mopac.

"The last couple of weeks we've seen a little bit of an increase in crashes," said Lieutenant Robert Richman, with APD's Highway Enforcement Motors Division.

Richman says this is because construction to add an express lane on the southbound side of Mopac recently began.

"People, when they don't realize that the traffic...slowed down to 55 as opposed to 65," said Richman.

For the first time, the helicopter is being used to monitor the construction problems at the Mopac Improvement Project.

Richman said, "Mopac has historically been a place where people cruise a little bit above the speed limit."

He says there are two reasons for the higher accident numbers; decreased speed limits and no shoulder in the construction zone.

"Part of the problem is that people don't have a place to go when they slam on their brakes," said Richman.

Unreliable travel times on this heavily congested corridor prompted the $200 million project.

Eventually, express lanes will be added onto Mopac, in each direction, from Cesar Chavez to Parmer Lane with variable tolls, which means the toll costs more when traffic is heavy and vice versa.

"The whole intent of it is to help the traffic congestion that we have going on now," added Richman.

Officers are stationed on Mopac seven days a week. Their goal is not to write tickets, but if drivers continue to ignore the lower speed limit, don't expect a warning.

"People need to slow down going to work," said Richman. "Are we going to do special initiatives? If we see the need for it, absolutely. It's not gonna go away any time soon."

The construction is scheduled to be complete sometime in 2015.

Highway enforcement says no serious injuries or fatal crashes have happened because of the construction.

LINK:

www.mopacexpress.com

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