Austin's Plan to Cover I-35 Gets New Details

Sept. 21, 2023
The larger I-35 overhaul is slated to be done in 2032

It has been almost a month since the eight-mile-long Capital Express Central Project received federal approval, and on Tuesday, Austin City Council members were briefed on the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) $4.5 billion revamp of I-36 through Austin.

"I think we're all very interested in if this highway is moving forward, that we're doing so in a way that helps protect our community," said Austin Mayor Pro-tem Paige Ellis.

The "cap-and-stitch" approach would cover lowered sections of the freeway.

"In terms of the caps, I think they kind of speak for themselves in terms of usefulness," said District 4 Council Member Jose "Chito" Vela. "I just don't see somebody kind of reading a book on the stitch, you know, above I-35 and watching the traffic."

The plan calls for 14 caps and stitches that would be paid for by the city, and one covered by the University of Texas. One cap is slated for construction next year with the rest in 2026.

The city is hoping a $105 million federal grant will help with the cost of one of the larger decks between Cesar Chavez and 4th Streets.

"This section also includes the only portion of the caps that create a whole land bridge, so you don't have to step on the asphalt to get from downtown to the East Side," said Austin Interim Director for Transportation & Public Works Richard Mendoza.

The caps and stitches are estimated to cost between $600 million and $800 million. In order to build them in coordination with TxDOT, the city would have to pay the state by December of next year.

The larger I-35 overhaul is slated to be done in 2032.