Increases throughput capacity and reduces congestion
With this concept, two managed lanes (one in each direction) will be provided. This will increase the travel-time predictability for mass transit as well as provide drivers with the option of a quicker route on I-35 while it passes through the urban core. Entrance and exit ramps will also be limited and reconfigured with the intent to reduce weaving, one of the main causes of congestion along this stretch of I-35.
Reconnect Austin’s engineering partner is Freese and Nichols, this country’s preeminent highway engineering design firm. They are currently working hand-in-hand with both TxDOT and HNTB so that this Concept is fully vetted. Together they are addressing all of the questions you’ve raised as well as many you’ve never thought about. Regarding such constructability questions, Freese and Nichols simply replies: “Oh, it is indeed quite constructible. For every engineering problem there is an engineering solution.”
Reestablishes urban grid, providing connections for all modes of travel
Currently many of Austin’s East/West streets, for example 5th Street, end at the I-35 frontage road. With this Concept, these streets will be reconnected, giving people more transportation options and better accessibility to wherever they’d like to go.
Reestablishing the urban grid facilitates traffic flow between downtown and the surrounding area. The urban boulevard acts similarly to other downtown streets, encouraging drivers with a downtown destination to choose a variety of routes, instead of bottlenecking on I-35.
This proposal transforms the I-35 corridor into a road that equitably serves pedestrians, bicycles, and cars. The shaded cycle track will provide a key North-South connection to Austin’s downtown bike infrastructure, connecting directly to the Lance Armstrong Bikeway at 4th Street. Just as important, this city boulevard will allow bikes and pedestrians to safely and comfortably cross the interstate by tying into the existing street grid.
To learn more about reconnecting urban grids, click here and visit Park 101, which proposes a visionary urban design solution to cap the half-mile length of the 101 Hollywood Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles. And to learn more about the “disappearing traffic” phenomenon, click here.
Separates high-speed traffic from walkable environment
Needless to say, as it stands today I-35 is a dangerous place to be. Period. With this concept, high-speed lanes will be sunk underground and at-grade boulevards will be configured along the cap to engage the grid. That will result in traffic becoming much more civilized and safe for all modes of transportation.
In its design this urban boulevard will place a high priority on East-West traffic and alternative modes of transportation. Built to Great Streets standards, this boulevard will feature wide sidewalks, a double row of street trees, and generous bicycle infrastructure. Reconnect Austin envisions a lively, walkable, civilized urban space, with mixed use buildings full of restaurants, shops, offices and residences. This project is a fixed, permanent solution, and will therefore provide long-term infrastructure for cars and people alike.
To learn more about how roadways can be reconfigured to promote safety, click here and visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School.