TxDOT Identifies "Preferred Alternatives" for the I-35 Capital Express Central Project

Jan. 12, 2023
More has to be done for pedestrian safety on the project

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is seeing opposition with its plans to improve Interstate 35

Austin City Council Member Chito Vela says while TxDOT has made some progress with its proposed plans for much-needed upgrades to I-35, he feels the third blueprint is missing important details.

“I-35 has historically divided our community, and this rebuild is an opportunity to reconnect East and West Austin,” said Vela.

Vela represents District 4 which covers parts of the $4.9 billion project. Over the past few years, the council member says there have been several pedestrian deaths. Vela thinks the current plan lacks additional crossings that could keep people safe.

“They’re putting one of those elevated pedestrian crossings. It's going to be almost like a quarter mile or maybe a third of a mile across the highway and then you walk all the way down. To me, that's not an effective crossing. That doesn't really enhance mobility for anyone. We need to put in an at-grade crossing that helps bicyclists pedestrians and motorists."

Although the project has been approved by some, it’s also led to lawsuits. Three groups are suing TxDOT alleging that TxDOT is "violating the law" by splitting its I-35 project into separate parts to avoid a more rigorous environmental review process and public engagement of one larger project.

The major project proposes improvements along I-35 from US 290 east to SH71 and Ben White Boulevard, with additional flyovers at I-35 and US 290 East. TxDOT says an additional amount of land will have to be acquired to accomplish the expansion.

Council Member Vela would prefer if they built the highway within its current dimensions.

“Although they've reduced the amount of land that they're planning to take, they are still going to have to take a good chunk of Austin land in order to move the platform,” said Vela.

Changes could start happening in mid-2024. TxDOT is also holding a public hearing for feedback on February 9th.


Source: CBSAustin.com

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