Removes historic social, economic, and racial divide
The big picture of the Reconnect Austin proposal is that it restores Austin’s historic urban grid, and removes the concrete barrier that has historically been a social, economic and racial divide. This vision is very much about reconnecting the economically thriving downtown and West Austin to the East Austin that has often been left behind.
Creates new open space
To further extend Austin’s efforts toward carbon neutrality, the Reconnect Austin vision means more trees and less concrete. The cap includes an expansion of Palm Park across the cap into East Austin, as well as trees along the boulevard and in the median. This helps reduce the urban heat island effect in Austin’s core.
Mitigates noise pollution and CO2 emissions
Currently pollution from motorized vehicles is released into our air. By placing the main lanes of I-35 underground, we have an opportunity to sequester and mitigate these carbon dioxide emissions. Any cap over the main lanes will require a ventilation system and this system can filter polluted air before it is released into the atmosphere.
With this concept, the noise pollution that currently adversely impacts surrounding neighborhoods will be mitigated if not altogether eliminated. Why? Besides serving as the foundation for a park and urban boulevards, the cap will also function more effectively than a traditional soundwall.
Adds flood control
With the Reconnect Austin concept, flood control can be reconfigured to deal with the runoff from the highway, including possibly putting that runoff into the Waller Creek Flood Control Tunnel. Drainage is an especially important consideration near Robertson Hill, and open space on the cap can be designed to respond to this topography.