Our Role

Reconnect Austin is a group of volunteers, dedicated to encouraging TxDOT to consider the needs of Austin as they rebuild the urban core of I-35 (Holly St. to 12th). The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is a state governmental agency tasked with moving traffic North/South on the highway and frontage roads. Our Reconnect Austin community of volunteers believes that TxDOT should be alleviating the negative impacts of I-35 on neighborhoods, examining the economic effects of the highway, and considering future land uses along I-35.

Reconnect Austin is neither affiliated with nor paid by TxDOT; however, we do recognize that it is crucial to engage TxDOT in this community conversation, as they control the I-35 right-of-way.

Who are the key players?

  • Reconnect Austin is a volunteer coalition facilitating a community conversation around the future of I-35 in downtown Austin. We are not affiliated with or paid by TxDOT.
  • The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is a government agency charged with “providing safe and reliable transportation solutions for Texas” (TxDOT website).
  • The City of Austin Transportation Department oversees a variety of transportation issues within the city and works cooperatively with TxDOT

Who owns the I-35 Right of Way (ROW)?

  • TxDOT appears to own the land, though the City of Austin was the owner before I-35 was built.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has jurisdiction over the interstate, which is managed for them by TxDOT.
  • Reconnect Austin has no control over the right of way or the state and federal agencies that own/manage the ROW.

Who makes decisions about I-35?

  • The decision-makers are TxDOT, with their consultants HTNB, Alliance, and sub-consultants; and,
  • City of Austin (COA) Transportation with their consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff, and sub-consultants.

Reconnect Austin volunteers have been meeting with civic and neighborhood groups to raise awareness of TxDOT’s actions. Volunteers have been meeting with TxDOT and City of Austin to encourage them to consider improvements that are beneficial to the Austin community. 

Who will rebuild I-35?

  • It will most likely be a contractor, hired by either TxDOT or CTRMA.

Who makes money on this project?

  • HNTB has a $25 Million contract from TxDOT to study I-35 over the next 5 years.
  • No one at Reconnect Austin is making money from this – these are all volunteers.  Any expenses, like printing, are paid for out of pocket.

What are the differences in the proposals?

Due to the highway’s age, it must be reconstructed for safety reasons. So, the question is not IF we should rebuild it, but HOW we should rebuild it.

RoleTable

Why should you care?

TxDOT plans to rebuild the downtown portion of I-35, from Lady Bird Lake to MLK.  They are spending millions of dollars paying consultants to study, design and rebuild the highway.  Shouldn’t Austin have a say in what gets built and how it affects our community?

While TxDOT is still studying how to rebuild the downtown portion of I-35, we have the opportunity to let them know how the highway can be designed to make it a better neighbor for our communities.

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