Rethink35 UT Student Group Letter to TxDOT

February 23, 2023

Dear TxDOT,

We are the Rethink35 student group at The University of Texas at Austin and we are writing to voice our concerns regarding the proposed I-35 expansion. We recently held a rally on our campus and the turnout proved that opposition to the expansion is felt not only within the city but particularly among students. During the rally, many students expressed various objections to the proposed project. The expansion will make public transit, walking, biking, and other alternative transit options incredibly dangerous. Since students who do not have or cannot afford a car must resort to these alternative forms of transportation, socioeconomically disadvantaged students will be impacted the most. The construction project and expansion will only promote more vehicle-related emissions in the Austin area. According to research conducted by the Dell Medical School at UT, kids in Travis County are hospitalized for asthma at a rate 60% higher than the national average, and since there is a link between pollution and asthma, TxDOT’s plan will only exacerbate this increasing health problem. Furthermore, a large portion of UT students are from the Houston area, where they have experienced a highway widening to 26 lanes, and they can personally attest to the failure of the expansion to reduce traffic.

UT Austin prides itself on the fact that students are able to use the knowledge they learn at this university to make an impact in their communities. The slogan “What starts here changes the world” inspires us to take initiative and make a difference in the world where we see room for improvement. Students across the university have all learned about the devastating impacts of pollution and how anthropogenic factors contribute to global warming. This has become an issue that impacts our daily lives and to ignore it would go against what this university has taught us. Therefore, it would be a betrayal of our values to support an expansion that will contribute more to pollution and climate change.

As students, we are the next generation and we are the ones who will bear the consequences and make amends if this catastrophic decision is made. We urge you to reconsider this expansion with our welfare in mind, to create a future that values people over cars, and to use this opportunity to advocate for a transformational and sustainable transportation system.

The UT Rethink35 Student Group