Reconnect Austin is a long-term urban design and economic development solution to a traffic problem. I-35, through Austin’s urban core, is the 4th most congested roadway in the US. Like many highways, the bridges are over 50 years old, necessitating reconstruction. Like many other highways, I-35 has historically been a social, economic, cultural, and racial barrier, dividing West Austin from East Austin.
Since the highway must be reconstructed, we have the opportunity to rethink how I-35 interacts with, and impacts, our City. Based on extensive research of innovative highway solutions, we propose to lower the main lanes of this one mile stretch of I-35, cover that mile with a continuous cap, and place a city boulevard on top. The at-grade boulevard would be reconnected to the surface cross streets and the land where the frontage roads now sit would be converted to developable land. This liberates 30 acres of downtown real estate and creates substantial new tax base.
Reconnect Austin envisions a lively, walkable, civilized urban space, with mixed use buildings full of restaurants, shops, offices and residences. The boulevard would be built to Austin’s Great Streets standards, with wide sidewalks, double rows of street trees, and significantly improved accessibility for all.
Currently we are in the process of meeting with various civic and professional organizations as well as neighborhood groups. This growing coalition is gaining considerable positive traction. Right now we ask you to join us in requesting that TxDOT continues to study the Reconnect Austin Concept as an alternative for what we can achieve in the urban core.