Austin Sierra Club Regarding I-35 Capital Express Central Project

The National Environmental Policy Act requires that the planning for each project rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives. This section is the heart of the environmental impact statement. For I-35, TxDOT has offered three alternatives: two peas in a pod and “no action”. Basically TxDOT has offered no alternatives beyond their project of choice.

The core challenge is how to move people and vehicles north and south through Central Austin. TxDOT has chosen their sole antidote to congestion: Add Road Lanes. There may be an instance where adding lanes has solved a problem, but no-one has a ready example. On the other hand, failed attempts are legion. Houston’s Katy Freeway is famous. Add space on a highway and induced traffic will fill it. There is little doubt that four more lanes added to I-35 will result in more congestion, not to mention the impact of eight years of construction over eight miles from U.S. Hwy. 290 East to Ben White.

There is an obvious alternative. For a century or more Greater Austin has added facilities for movement north and south. All of them — except Congress Avenue, which has become a local arterial — are in use today for getting through the city. Two more north-south routes are planned for the future. If TxDOT chose to study what we have and have planned they would find that there is a serious alternative for moving people north and south in Greater Austin.

What do we have? Starting from the east:
SH-130 (Connected to San Marcos at TX-21)
TX-973 (Now adding four lanes)
US-183 (Recent $800 million addition and connected to San Marco at TX-21)
Springdale Road
Metro Rapid lines 801 and 803
North and South Lamar
Loop 1 (MoPac) — Four lanes to be added to South Loop 1

What’s coming?
Light Rail Orange line (20 miles from Slaughter Lane to Tech Ridge)
Pleasant Valley Metro Rapid line (12 miles from Goodnight Ranch Park to Mueller)

Commuter Rail on the Union Pacific freight tracks. (Once planned from San Antonio to
New undiscovered options

The Austin Sierra Club opposes TxDOTs plans for the I-35 Capital Express Central Project. TxDOT has ignored existing options and ignored NEPA regulations.

Dick Kallerman, ASC Transportation Chair