Reconnect Austin is a grassroots campaign to bury I-35 through Downtown Austin and reclaim this vital corridor as public space and developable land. Our vision is to create a new, humanized boulevard, reconnecting East Austin to Downtown, mitigating air and water pollution, and providing an economic boost in the form of new, centrally located housing and businesses.
“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.