Safe Streets Austin Letter to TxDOT re: I-35 Cap Ex Central

March 7, 2023

Tommy Abrego, P.E.
I-35 Program Manager
Texas Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 15426
Austin, Texas 78761-5426

RE: I-35 TxDOT Alternatives

Dear Mr. Abrego,

Safe Streets Austin concurs with the City of Austin Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) and City of Austin Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) letter of recommendation (attached and submitted here with). Safe Streets Austin agrees with the joint BACPAC and does not support any I-35 alternative currently proposed by TxDOT. Safe Streets Austin remains open to collaborating with TxDOT to find designs and solutions that address the Councils’ concerns, but until TxDOT offers a proposed alternative and sufficient design detail to demonstrate that the project will provide truly safe, high-quality active transportation facilities and connections to a complete network, Safe Streets Austin does not support moving forward with any of TxDOT’s proposed alternatives for I-35 Cap-Ex Central.

Safe Streets Austin is a nonprofit organization seeking to transform Austin’s streets, bikeways, and trails into safe, vibrant, and equitable places for people of all ages and abilities to walk, bike, roll, and gather. We believe this corridor can be transformed to provide safe, comfortable, high-quality access for all, including people walking, people biking, and people using assistive devices. We currently have a once in a lifetime opportunity to rethink what is currently a deadly corridor and transform the surface into a low-speed, urban environment that prioritizes access and safety over vehicular speed.

We know from decades of data that expanding I-35 will do little to solve congestion, in fact TxDOT staff confirmed that when they stated, “We are not even trying to pretend that we will solve congestion.” With future induced demand, any added capacity will be absorbed rapidly and congestion will be worse. Once these new highway lanes fill up, we will have to live with increased air pollution, increased noise pollution, increased water pollution, and increased traffic on our local street network.

In addition to agreeing with the whereas statements and the recommendations in the BACPAC resolution, we have concerns about the quality of the air which active transportation users currently breathe near I-35, and the air they will be breathing in the future. Health impacts are a huge concern to people walking, biking, and rolling along and across this corridor, as they are directly exposed to concentrated pollutants. This project should not move forward until TxDOT conducts a complete analysis that addresses Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10), Nitrous Oxides (NOx), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and analyzes the long term impacts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions decades beyond just the construction period.

We respectfully request that TxDOT return to the community with a revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement that does a thorough job addressing these current deficiencies.


Hill Abell, Board Member
Safe Streets Austin