Reconnect Austin is a grassroots campaign to bury I-35 through the urban core of Austin (Lady Bird Lake to Airport Blvd.) and repurpose this vital corridor as public space and developable land. Our vision is to create a new, humanized boulevard, reconnecting central neighborhoods to Downtown, State Capitol Complex, and UT Austin, all while mitigating air and water pollution, and providing an economic boost in the form of new, centrally located housing and businesses.
IMPORTANT PROJECT UPDATE
TxDOT released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement on January 5, 2023. The DEIS has a 60-day public comment period from January 5 to March 7, 2023. Any comments received by TxDOT within this comment period will go onto the public record and must be evaluated by TxDOT.
With the release of the DEIS, TxDOT has demonstrated their intent to move forward with Modified Alternative 3, which provides opportunities for caps and stitches given that the City of Austin provides funding for their construction, operations, and maintenance.
The entire DEIS can be read online at https://my35capex.com/draft-eis/. The entire document, complete with 23 appendices, runs approximately 7,000 pages. For a quick overview of the DEIS and its impacts on this project, check out great coverage from KUT and the Austin Politics Newsletter:
KUT: TxDOT Narrows Options for Widening I-35 Through Austin
Austin Politics Newsletter: TxDOT Releases its Preferred I-35 Expansion Plan
KUT: I-35 Questions and Answers
We encourage anyone interested in this project to submit their feedback to TxDOT regarding Modified Alternative 3 and the proposed project. Ideal feedback is submitted during the DEIS public comment period Jan 5 – March 7, 2023, but feedback at any point in this project is crucial and helps advocate for a better I-35 and a better future for Austin. Comments may be submitted to TxDOT via any of the following methods:
- EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
- VERBAL COMMENT BY VOICEMAIL: (512) 651-2948
- MAIL: I-35 Capital Express Central Project Team, 1608 W. 6th Street, Austin, TX 78703
- ONLINE: My35CapEx.com or TxDOT.gov
Community and local government response letters to the DEIS can be viewed here.
More information about this project and its recent history can be found here.
“The removal of freeways in cities today is less a matter of technical limitations and more a matter of pragmatic response, community aspiration, and political will.”
I-35 IS THE MOST CONGESTED, DANGEROUS, AND UNHEALTHY CORRIDOR IN TEXAS.
It traps commuters in an average of 87 hours of traffic a year.
It was responsible for 22% of traffic fatalities in 2018.
It serves as a physical barrier between East and West Austin.
It is home to the worst air quality in the city.
It is not compatible with the long-term vision for Austin.
WE CANNOT BUILD OUR WAY OUT OF CONGESTION.
Adding lanes to existing roads creates an induced demand – more lanes attract more drivers; more drivers mean just as much or even more congestion.
2008’s Katy Freeway expansion took 3 years to complete and cost $2.8 billion. It added 3 extra lanes to Houston’s stretch of I-10. The result? A 30% increase in travel time.
CONSIDER WHAT WE GIVE UP WHEN WE BUILD MASSIVE HIGHWAYS THROUGH CITIES.
WE CAN RECLAIM DOWNTOWN BY BURYING AND CAPPING I-35.
With the highway below ground and access points placed in the cap, our street grid can be stitched back together, providing better traffic dispersion and more connections for biking and walking.
A full cap of the sunken highway is vital to shifting the frontage roads in and placing them on the cap. The shift would free 30 acres of new land for affordable housing.
The new boulevard would be a quality public space; safer and more comfortable for all users with more open spaces, trees and landscaping.
I-35’s current location is the ideal corridor for high-capacity transit. Stations downtown would connect the underground interstate and the street above with buses and light rail.
The worst air quality in Austin tracks I-35. A new tunnel ventilation system would scrub pollutants from the air, and new trees above ground would help mitigate CO2 emissions, improve water filtration, and reduce heat islands.