DANA – Letter to TxDOT 09/21

September 22, 2021

Chairman Bugg and Commissioners:

The Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) strongly opposes the current TxDOT plan for expanding I-35 through central Austin.

We urge the Commission to give meaningful consideration to the community-proposed alternatives presented at Rethink35.com and ReconnectAustin.com. Either of these alternatives would be far better for Downtown Austin, and for the planet, than the expansion TxDOT is proposing. Please evaluate these alternatives fully alongside the TxDOT proposals in regard to all relevant impacts, including air quality, noise, safety, vehicle miles traveled, climate change, and tax base.

Additionally:

  • The highway’s footprint should be no higher and no wider than it is today, and should be narrowed to the greatest extent possible to reduce the barrier it creates and to shorten crossing distances, particularly for those traveling via active transportation modes.
  • The I-35 corridor should be supportive of all transportation modes, with careful attention paid to active transportation. The bikeways and sidewalks along and across I-35 should be comfortable, safe, continuous, fully connected to Austin’s active transportation networks, and protected from traffic by a buffer of at least 20 feet.
  • The surface level of I-35 should include as many crossings, for all modes of travel, as possible.
  • Any surface level frontage roads should be designed to city standards and function as city streets, and should significantly improve safety for vulnerable road users.
  • Street trees should be provided between the roadway and the active transportation paths.
  • This project should bring improved access and usability to all parks and trails directly impacted, including Palm Park, Town Lake Metropolitan Park, Waller Beach, and the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

Given that Austin is about to embark on the much-needed construction of the Project Connect transit system, we encourage the Commission to consider shelving the plans to overhaul I-35 until the new transit system is in place. This system would provide convenient access to downtown for many during the construction of any changes to I-35.

Thank you for your consideration of our input. We look forward to continuing involvement during future discussions about this project.

Sincerely,

Kimberley Levinson
President
The DANA Board
Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association