Mueller Neighborhood Association Letter on I-35 Position

To: Austin City Council, CAMPO, TXDOT, Texas Transportation Commission

From: Mueller Neighborhood Association

Date: 22 FEB 2023

SUBJECT: IH35 Expansion – Council Item 44

Worse than nothing, send TXDOT back to the drawing board.

The Mueller Neighborhood Association (MNA) position for the current TXDOT proposals are as follows:

  • Oppose both TXDOT alternatives, ‘No Build’ is the best scenario on the table
  • Support the Reconnect Austin position and comments
  • Support the Rethink35 position and comments
  • Support the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition (NCINC) position and comments
  • Urge CAMPO and the Texas Transportation Commission to release all funding for the IH35 Central Austin project to give TXDOT sufficient time to develop improves alternatives, far more important projects need this funding urgently

In essence, TXDOT plans to: put more cars sitting on the road through Central Austin, further entrench the physical divide in our city, further coking it with air pollution, and further eroding the tax base in one of the most economically productive cities in the nation. They do this with the (false) promise of congestion relief, highway expansion projects simply do not work.

While offering to demolish the physical scar of the upper decks, they push for an even wider freeway. A freeway to pollute the city, to further choke our city, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our parks.

While offering table scraps of a few additional bike lanes and sidewalks right next to speeding automobiles, their proposed pedestrian crossing designs trade saving seconds off a single car trip to make a crossing of 35 impractical and unlikely outside of a steel cage.

As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. Similarly, the best time to stop TXDOT was in the 1940s. The second best time is today. If our ancestors had stopped TXDOT, we would not have to fight to reconnect our community. If we fail to stop TXDOT now, our kids and the next generation will have a bigger task of reconnecting our community. IH35 should have never been built through our city, adding a bunch of extra automobile lanes does not improve it for anyone.

We should also keep in mind that stopping this highway expansion will not be our first success. The community did indeed successfully stop the creation of a central expressway through UT campus, through central neighborhoods along 2222, as well as stopped the so-called Camp Mabry Freeway along 35th Street to Lamar, and many others. Send TXDOT back to the drawing board.

Instead of expanding the highway, TXDOT should be looking for ways to shrink the highway and allow property owners to develop that land for new businesses and homes. In fact, a pro-business proposal would expand the tax base and usable land in our city, not erode it further.

Additionally, TXDOT should be looking for ways to divert automobile traffic around the city core on the highways already expanded. Re-designating another already-expanded parallel highway as the interstate highway is far cheaper and faster, without construction delays. It’s imprudent to push for an expensive and time consuming expansion project when there’s already excess parallel capacity available.

From national security and disaster preparedness perspectives, we need an interstate highway that completely bypasses the densest part of the city so that people and goods can pass through more efficiently. Trying to expand international and regional automobile capacity in the densest part of the city is a decidedly inferior plan.

Going further, it is an absolute falsehood that highway expansion is needed to keep local streets safer. High quality road design keeps all users safe, regardless of volume. Mueller and the surrounding neighborhoods need safer streets regardless of TXDOT plans. We will be negatively impacted if TXDOT’s proposals move forward.

We urge your to oppose TXDOT’s current proposals. While stopping TXDOT’s current proposals will not fix many of the issues Austin faces, it will make it easier to continue creating a better Austin, an Austin for everyone.


Greg Keller

Chair, MNA Steering Committee