Researchers, team members supply strategies to ease congestion on Austin’s Loop 1, MoPac Expressway
Austin, Texas, widely dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World” has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years that transformed the town into a thriving and vibrant center of tourism, culture, higher-learning and technology. But accompanying Austin’s booming growth are gridlock and congestion throughout its roadway system.
Loop 1, the MoPac Expressway, is far from immune to the problem. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is working to ease congestion woes along this major north-south corridor with the assistance of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), Austin’s Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), a team of consultants led by DMJM Harris and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through a Value Pricing Pilot Program grant.
After holding public open houses in April and beginning the environmental portion of roadway planning, TxDOT is considering adding a managed lane on each side of Loop 1. Rather than converting an existing lane, new managed lanes would be constructed along an 11-mile stretch of MoPac.
Managed lanes are typically created in congested corridors to provide travel options by setting aside lanes for high occupancy vehicles (HOV), including transit, trucks and toll-paying vehicles, depending on the solution needed for a specific roadway.
TTI Research Engineer Ginger Goodin heads a team of TTI researchers who are contributing expertise to the Loop 1 managed lanes project on a host of topics, including geometric design, safety, signing, public outreach, operations planning, simulation modeling and traffic and revenue analysis.
TTI’s team is providing research input on specific questions, such as:
- How wide should the new managed lanes and adjacent shoulders be?
- How should the access points be designed?
- How much space should be allocated to general purpose traffic and managed lanes traffic?
- What are effective methods for enforcing the managed lanes?
- How can freeway operations, incident management, pricing and enforcement be effectively integrated for Loop 1?
- What is the best way to communicate sometimes complex toll pricing information and lane instructions to drivers?
- What is the most reliable method for estimating revenue?
- What are effective ways of communicating the proposed use of managed lanes to the public?
“The Loop 1 project has been strengthened from the beginning because all of the right team members have been at the table,” says Goodin. “What makes this project different from a typical freeway project is that managed lanes are still a relatively new concept, so TTI is providing research expertise at just about every step of the process. We have researched numerous aspects of managed lanes and are using what we have learned to contribute to an actual project in development.”
TTI On the Project
- Kevin Balke
- Mark Burris
- Jodi Carson
- Susan Chrysler
- Tina Collier
- Scott Cooner
- Kay Fitzpatrick
- Ginger Goodin
- Phillip Reeder
- Leonard Ruback
- Shawn Turner
- David Ungemah
- Steve Venglar