Walk Austin – Letter to TxDOT 12/20

The following text comprised a submittable letter form created by Walk Austin for use by community members to participate in TxDOT’s official public engagement period for I-35 Central in December 2020.

We call for quality of life and equity issues to be fully evaluated in the environmental scoping process for the I-35 Capital Express Central Project.

I-35 through Austin is being rebuilt. We need your help to undo the historical damage of I-35 and build a better future.

Dirty air, noise, broken bones, road deaths, and asthma are just some of the costs that I-35 has brought upon people across Austin and beyond. The impacts have been even worse for poorer communities already struggling from historic inequities.

As part of the I-35 Capital Express Central Project, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is asking the public what issues to consider when deciding on how to rebuild the aging I-35 through Austin in the next few years. TxDOT must consider more than just moving vehicles through Austin quickly. Health, safety, equity, and prosperity must come first.

Sign this letter and make sure TxDOT addresses the following issues:

  1. Human and environmental health impacts, especially for nearby communities, including air and water quality, flooding, noise, and vehicular-related deaths and serious injuries. Climate change is a major threat to humanity and must also be addressed.
  2. Equity and economic sustainability. Create walkable, mixed-use, and equitable transit-oriented development along I-35; close socioeconomic gaps between communities and stop displacement; and consider how much land should be used for the highway versus housing, schools, and businesses; and conduct a full equity impact analysis for this corridor and nearby communities.
  3. Focus on accessing needs, rather than maximizing speed. People shouldn’t have to take long, dangerous drives for groceries or to get to work. Walking, bicycling, and transit should be safer and more accessible, destinations should be closer to home, and the street network should be better connected with fewer dead ends so traffic isn’t funneled as often onto I-35.
  4. Compatibility with existing local plans. The public has already approved plans by the City of Austin and other local government entities, such as the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP) and the voter-approved Project Connect. TxDOT should help accomplish those plans.
  5. Provide the public a wide range of design alternative for I-35, not just highway expansions. These designs should include the ULI’s recommendations, the eventual plan from the Downtown Austin Alliance’s Our Future 35 conversation, Reconnect Austin, and Rethink35.