Austin Traffic – Is It Really That Bad?

Typical Loop-1 rush-hour traffic at Lake Austin Blvd.

Despite our best efforts, Austin has recently been ranked the third-worst traffic in the United States. A traffic research firm, INRIX, announced that Austin is one of the top five most congested cities in America with approximately 70 new cars hitting the streets daily in Austin.

It’s no surprise that the traffic in Austin has become a major issue with all the population growth happening in the city.  More and more people moving to Austin per day means more cars on the roadways.  Although the traffic congestion is a very frustrating problem to many, it does prove to be a positive sign of our healthy, booming economy at the moment.  Austin’s unemployment rate is below 5% and at any given time you can look at the city’s skyline and see anywhere between 12 and 20 construction cranes building new employment venues & residences.

So what is the city doing to address this issue & improve mobility in Austin? There are a number of projects that have already been completed, projects that are currently in the process of being done, and some proposed ideas are still on the drawing board.

Projects already completed include:

  • State Highway 45 which is a toll road highway loop around Austin, Texas, that exists in two open segments & forms a complete loop around Austin (a distance of roughly 80 miles.)
  • Texas State Highway 130 (SH 130), which is a highway that runs in a 131-mile corridor east and south of The route parallels I-35 and is intended to relieve the Interstate’s traffic volume through the San Antonio-Austin corridor by serving as an alternate route.

Projects currently in process:

  • MoPac (Loop-1) Express Lanes The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is building one Express Lane in each direction on north MoPac (Loop 1) from Lady Bird Lake to Parmer Lane. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2015. See more info on the MoPac Improvement Project here. Mopac carries about 180,000 cars per day and is expected to carry 320,000 by the year 2030. Most construction is occurring between 9 pm and 5 am so regular traffic is not heavily affected.
  • US-290 @ William Cannon Continuous Flow Intersection Improvement TxDOT, in cooperation with the city of Austin and Travis County, is working on improvements at five intersections along US-290 in western Travis County, including US-290 and William Cannon. This project provides the left-turn movement of US-290 westbound and eastbound traffic 300 ft. in advance of the intersection. The purpose of the project is to reduce congestion by improving mobility and enhancing safety. You can preview a visualization here.

A few ideas currently being considered are focused on expanding our light-rail system and commuter rail and enhancing Interstate 35. Many of these plans are proposals up for voter approval so we expect to resolve many of our traffic woes in the near future!

 

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