Texas State Highway Loop 1

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State Highway 1 marker State Highway 1 toll marker

State Highway Loop 1
MoPac Expressway
Route information
Length 25.698 mi[1] (41.357 km)
Existed 1967 – present
Major junctions
South end SH 45
 

US 290

SH 71
US 183
North end SH 45 Toll
Location
Counties Travis, Williamson
Highway system
SH 1 FM 1

Loop 1 is a freeway which provides access to the west side of Austin in the U.S. state of Texas. It is named Mopac Expressway (or, according to some highway signs, Mopac Boulevard) after the Missouri Pacific Railroad (or "MoPac"). Local residents will invariably use the name "MoPac" rather than calling the road by its number[2][3] which can cause much confusion as few signs along the road use this name.[4][5] Adding to the confusion, the road goes in a mostly straight line rather than a loop.

The original section of the highway was built in the 1970s along the right-of-way of the Missouri Pacific Railroad (now owned by Union Pacific), with the railroad tracks running in the highway median between West 8th Street and Northland Drive. To the north, the tracks run along the east side of newer sections of the highway from Northland Drive to Braker Lane.

History[edit]

Route designation[edit]

Texas Spur 1.svg

The first mention of Loop 1 came to public record in 1929. In 1944, the City of Austin Planning Commission (CMAC) proposed the highway be built in parts of under-utilized right of way owned by the MoPac railroad. Thus, the highway was eventually given the nickname "MoPac" for its proximity to the railroad. The number was originally used for Spur 1 designated on September 26, 1939 from US Highway 90 (US 90) to the Uvalde fish hatchery as a renumbering of SH 3 Spur. This route was cancelled on December 16, 1943. On March 26, 1958, a new route was designated, also called Spur 1, from US 80A to I-10. This route became part of Loop 16 on July 31, 1964, which itself got cancelled on June 26, 1974 when it was transferred to rerouted US 62 and US 85.[1] Loop 1 was first designated on October 27, 1967 from US 290 northward to Farm to Market Road 1325 (FM 1325). On October 24, 1985, the designation was extended southward from US 290 to SH 45.[1]

Expressway construction (1969 to 2006)[edit]

[6]

From To Length
(mi)
Length
(km)
Year
project began
Year of
project completion
Notes
RM 2244
(Bee Cave Road)
RM 2222
(Northland Road)
5.4 8.7 February 1969 November 1975 Loop 1 project started with
construction of the 45th Street
Interchange in February 1969.
RM 2222 US 183 4.6 7.4 September 1977 June 1981 Northern terminus of Loop 1 completed,
until July 1989 - with construction of the freeway extension to FM 734.
RM 2244 Loop 360 1.9 3.1 January 1979 March 1982 Southern terminus of Loop 1 completed,
until October 1989 - with construction of the freeway extension to US 290.
Loop 360 US 290 1.6 2.6 October 1983 October 1989 Southern terminus of Loop 1 completed,
until November 1990 - with construction of the roadway
extension to Slaughter Lane.
US 183 FM 1325 (Burnet Road)
and FM 734 (Parmer Lane)
3.7 6.0 January 1986 July 1989 Northern terminus of Loop 1 completed,
until October 2006 - with construction of the SH 45 North/
Loop 1 Connector toll road.
Stack interchange at US 183 is constructed -
involved major freeway improvements between Steck Avenue and US 183,
from March 1987 to June 1992.
US 290 Slaughter Lane 3.6 5.8 January 1988 November 1990 Southern terminus of Loop 1 completed,
until July 1991 - with construction of the roadway
extension to La Crosse Avenue.
Slaughter Lane La Crosse Avenue 1.0 1.6 July 1989 July 1991 Southern terminus of Loop 1 completed,
until May 1994 - with construction of the roadway
extension to State Highway 45 .
La Crosse Avenue SH 45 2.5 4.0 November 1989 May 1994 Southern terminus of Loop 1 completed.
FM 734 SH 45 North/
Loop 1 Interchange
4.0 6.4 February 2003 October 2006 Construction on the SH 45 North Interchange
began in September 2003.
Northern terminus of Loop 1 completed.

[7][8]

Route description[edit]

A stretch of Loop 1 in Austin. The Union Pacific railway is visible in the foreground.

Loop 1's southern terminus is at the beginning of the State Highway 45 stub south of Austin. It passes through the Circle C Ranch housing development and the Edwards Aquifer and intersects SH 71/US 290 (Ben White Boulevard) and Loop 360 (Capital of Texas Highway). It crosses the Colorado River near downtown Austin; the view of the Texas State Capitol from the bridge became one of the Capitol View Corridors protected under state and local law from obstruction by tall buildings in 1983.[9] North of the river, the highway runs parallel to the Balcones Fault and the Missouri-Pacific Railroad before intersects US 183 (Research Boulevard) northwest of downtown. Loop 1 travels concurrently with Farm to Market Road 1325 for several miles before the non-tolled freeway ends at Parmer Lane, spanning a distance of 22.061 miles (35.504 km).

North of Parmer Lane, Loop 1 continues as a limited-access toll road to the SH 45 North/Loop 1 interchange, spanning 3 miles (4.8 km). Frontage roads flank either side of the toll road to Merrilltown Drive.

The Texas Department of Transportation completed construction of the tollway as part of the 2002 Central Texas Turnpike Project (CTTP). SH 45 North, also part of the project, provides freeway access to Interstate 35 from Loop 1. The 2002 CTTP was scheduled to be completed in September 2007. However, certain sections of the project, including Loop 1 opened early and more than $100 Million under budget.

If and when SH 45 is completed to the south of Austin, Loop 1 will effectively serve as a true loop to the west of the city, being directly connected to SH 45, and indirectly to I-35, at both ends.

MoPac Improvement Project[edit]

Since 1994, TxDOT has proposed the addition of managed lanes to portions of Loop 1. The MoPac Improvement Project[10] was relaunched in July 2010. In December 2010, four alternative proposals were presented to the public, each of which would add one or more lanes; the "no-build" alternative was also presented. The additions would not increase the right-of-way of the highway, but would be created by reducing the width of existing lanes and reducing and/or eliminating shoulders. An environmental study was completed in August 2012 with a Finding of No Significant Impact and a recommendation of one new travel lane in each direction, operated as express lanes.[11] Construction began in 2013, and was originally scheduled for completion in September 2015, but by August 2016, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority announced further delays.[12] The first of four tolled sections, specifically the northbound toll lane from RM 2222 to Parmer Lane, opened on October 17, 2016. The remainder of the northbound express lane, from Cesar Chavez Street to Parmer Lane, opened on October 7th, 2017, and the entire southbound express lane opened on October 28th, 2017.

MoPac Intersections Project[edit]

In 2013, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) and TxDOT initiated an environmental study to analyze the best options to improve the MoPac intersections at Slaughter Lane and La Crosse Avenue. In December 2015, the study was completed with a Finding of No Significant Impact for the project, which allowed it to move forward.[13] The selected design includes replacing the at-grade intersection at Slaughter Lane with a Diverging Diamond Interchange and the at-grade intersection at La Crosse Avenue with a conventional intersection. The project broke ground in January 2018.

Exit list[edit]

All exits are unnumbered.

County Location mi km Destinations Notes
Travis Austin 0.0 0.0 SH 45 west
0.7 1.1 South Bay Lane At-grade intersection; dead end both directions, turnaround only
1.5 2.4 La Crosse Avenue At-grade intersection
2.3 3.7 Slaughter Lane at-grade intersection; south end of freeway
2.9 4.7 Davis Lane Southbound exit and northbound entrance
4.7 7.6 William Cannon Drive
6.0 9.7 US 290 / SH 71 / Southwest Parkway – Johnson City, Llano, Sunset Valley
6.6 10.6 Frontage Road Southbound exit only
7.5 12.1 Loop 360 (Capital of Texas Highway) Only one stack intersection travels from southbound Loop 1 to southbound Loop 360; all others are at-grade
8.9 14.3 Barton Skyway
9.8 15.8 RM 2244 (Bee Caves Road) / Wallingwood Drive – Rollingwood, West Lake Hills
10.5 16.9 Cesar Chavez Street / 5th Street / Lake Austin Boulevard South end of variable toll lanes
11.2 18.0 Enfield Road
11.7 18.8 Windsor Road
12.3 19.8 Westover Road / Northwood Road
12.9 20.8 35th Street - Camp Mabry Access to Seton Main Hospital
13.8 22.2 45th Street
14.8 23.8 RM 2222 (Northland Drive) Access point for variable toll lanes
15.9 25.6 Far West Boulevard
16.6 26.7 Anderson Lane / Spicewood Springs Road Direct northbound exit and southbound entrance (southbound exit signed at Steck Avenue)
17.1 27.5 Steck Avenue No direct northbound entrance (signed at Capital of Texas Highway)
17.3 27.8 (no name) Northbound exit only; replaced by northbound collector distributor road underneath Steck Avenue[14]
18.0 29.0 US 183 (Research Boulevard) no direct southbound exit to US 183 north (signed at Capital of Texas Highway), access to Seton Northwest Hospital
18.7 30.1 Capital of Texas Highway
19.1 30.7 Braker Lane no direct northbound exit (signed at Capital of Texas Highway)
20.5 33.0 FM 1325 south (Burnet Road) / Duval Road South end of FM 1325 overlap, access to North Austin Medical Center
21.7 34.9 FM 734 (Parmer Lane) North end of variable toll lanes
22.4 36.0 Scofield Ridge Parkway no direct southbound exit
23.1 37.2 FM 1325 / Wells Branch Parkway / Howard Lane, Merrilltown Drive
24.0 38.6 Toll plaza
TravisWilliamson
county line
24.5 39.4 Shoreline Drive No southbound exit
Williamson 25.6 41.2 SH 45 Toll to I-35
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Transportation Planning and Programming Division (n.d.). "State Highway Loop No. 1". Highway Designation Files. Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ http://austin.about.com/od/gettingaroundaustin/a/StreetNames.htm
  3. ^ http://news.travel.aol.com/2010/08/26/austin-slang/
  4. ^ http://www.alwaysaustin.com/2011/04/deciphering-austin-street-names/?doing_wp_cron=1325493261
  5. ^ http://www.yelp.com/topic/austin-mopac-expressway-just-wondering
  6. ^ "Introduction: Mopac Improvement Project, April 2012" (PDF). Retrieved April 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The MoPac 1 Project will study feasibility of managed lanes for Loop 1, and included in the Mobility 2030 Plan that was adopted by CAMPO in June 2005". Archived from the original on February 23, 2006. Retrieved June 1, 2005. 
  8. ^ "What Native American tribe was most common in the area?". Texas Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on May 7, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Downtown Development and Capitol View Corridors" (PDF). Downtown Austin Commission. June 27, 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2017. 
  10. ^ MoPac Improvement Project
  11. ^ Ham, Justin. "Finding" (PDF). MoPac Improvement Project. U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Texas Division. Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  12. ^ Jechow, Andy (August 25, 2016). "Weather, paving corrections push back North MoPac opening date". KXAN-TV. Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  13. ^ "About MoPac Intersections". Retrieved 18 February 2018. 
  14. ^ "Mopac Improvement: Steck Avenue Collector-Distributor Lane Construction". Retrieved June 22, 2016.