New minimum, maximum speed limits approved for tolled MoPac express lanes


AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Wednesday, a board voted to change the minimum and maximum speed limits for the tolled express lanes on the MoPac Expressway.

The board of directors for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority considered the issue during their meeting Wednesday and voted 5-1 to approve the proposal. Nikelle Meade, the board’s vice chair, was the lone dissenting vote after expressing worry about how to enforce a minimum speed limit.

“I have a concern about posting 55 [miles per hour], and then somebody’s like, ‘Well, I’m going 55. I’m good. I don’t care if there are 400 people behind me,’ so that’s my concern,” Meade said. “For that reason I’m not going to support the item.”

The Express Lanes on MoPac are an 11-mile stretch from Parmer Lane to Cesar Chavez Street designed to allow drivers to move through congested stretches of the highway using a variable toll lane.

A “MoPac Express Lanes Speed Limit Study” was conducted by WSP USA Inc. and reviewed by the board in December.

“Radar speed data collected for this study justified express lane speed limits of 65 or 70 mph,” officials wrote in the study.

“We felt like, based on engineering data, that the prudent, safe driver would be at the 70 mark, and that’s what we measured and that’s what we stuck to,” Justin Word, the CTRMA director of engineering, said after the board meeting Wednesday.

Based on the findings of the study, CTRMA board members considered a 55-mph minimum speed and 70-mph maximum speed for the tolled express lanes. Currently, the express lane speed limit remains at 65 mph, which is the same as general lanes of traffic.

The estimated costs associated with changing the speed limits of the express lanes are about $80,000 and the money would come from the MoPac General Funds, according to the board agenda item. The speed limit change will not go into effect until the new signage is installed, which will likely take three to six months.

The aim of the proposed increase in speed limit is to promote uniformity in express lane travel speeds to reduce the risk of crashes and increase the throughput on the lanes during peak hours by discouraging slow drivers.

You can learn more about the proposed changes here.

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