NCINC Letter to Travis County Judge & CommissionersNCINC

Hon. Andy Brown
Travis County Judge

Commissioner Jeff Travillion
Travis County Precinct One

Commissioner Brigid Shea
Travis County Precinct Two

Commissioner Ann Howard
Travis County Precinct Three

Commissioner Margaret Gomez
Travis County Precinct Four

27 February 2023

RE: Agenda Item #33 (I-35 Capital Express Central Project)

To the Honorable Judge Brown and Travis County Commissioners,

I am writing to express deep concern with the County’s draft feedback statement to TxDOT regarding the I-35 Capital Express Central Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The statement does not appropriately address the valid concerns of community groups and the Commission’s support of Modified Alternative 3 will cause harm and direct undue burden on central Austin residential communities.

I am the current Chair of the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition (NCINC), a collection of thirteen neighborhood associations between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Highway 290 on both sides of I-35. In this role, I do not purport to speak on behalf of any Neighborhood Association; however, the majority of NCINC membership has voted to approve providing feedback that can be summarized as follows:

  • The Draft Environmental Impact Statement, as currently proposed, is not acceptable and requires substantive revisions to reduce harm on residential communities:
    • Revise modeling for the “No Build” scenario to reflect historical 20-year traffic patterns instead of TxDOT’s projection methodology
    • Revise travel time reduction to include travel time losses during construction duration
    • Introduce alternative means of traffic reduction, including diversion incentives to SH130
  • Modified Alternative 3, as currently proposed, is not acceptable and requires substantive revisions to reduce harm on residential communities:
    • Increase the total number and frequency of east-west crossings and provide at-grade pedestrian and bicycle access at all intersections.
    • Design for future covering or “capping” through the entire central segment.
    • Redouble efforts to work within existing TxDOT right-of-way to reduce expansion of highway footprint between Dean Keeton Street and Airport Boulevard.
    • Treat all frontage roads as part of the neighborhood street grid and employ appropriate designs according to residential context.

Please note that Austin’s City Council recently took action to provide comments of concern similar to the ones I have expressed here at their 2/23/23 hearing (Item #44). NCINC commends City Council for their critical response to TxDOT’s plans, and urges the Commissioner’s Court to similarly adjust their comments.

Many of our neighborhoods are preparing individual statement letters voicing similar concerns. Several of our members, including the North Loop Neighborhood Association, Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, and Schieffer-Willowbrook Neighborhood Association, have already voted to send letters of concern to TxDOT and local representatives.

Not one of our neighborhood Associations has voiced support for TxDOT’s Modified Alternative 3 in its current form. We strongly urge you to reconsider your language so as not to assist TxDOT in further dividing central Austin neighborhoods and reducing safety and community and human health as a result of this project.

Thank you for your consideration,

Brendan Wittstruck
Chair, North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition