State Sen. Kirk Watson today laid out a road map for transforming Interstate 35 to reduce traffic congestion in Central Texas and remove the concrete barrier that has divided Austin for more than half a century.
"The opportunity is now to bring I-35 into the 21st century by updating the infrastructure and using technology to create the connectivity our community demands," Sen. Watson said. "At the same time, we can right a historic wrong by lowering the lanes through downtown and reconnecting our community. Achieving these ambitious goals will require an unprecedented collaboration between state and local officials as well as public and private leaders."
The Mobility35 initiative — a 10-year, $4.3 billion plan for Travis, Williamson and Hays counties — has already received funding and work has begun on numerous projects along the I-35 corridor. A variety of financing options are being explored to cover the local share for the projects; and Watson believes the work can be completed without asking Austin taxpayers to shoulder an additional property tax burden.
The plan includes express lanes from FM 1431 in Round Rock to SH45 SE near the southern border of Travis County. The Texas Department of Transportation will begin holding public meetings about the express lane projects this summer.
"The express lanes will allow for a dependable trip time whether someone is traveling during rush hour or midday and open up opportunities for transit on I-35 that aren't available today because of traffic congestion," said Sen. Watson, who spoke to a group of business and community leaders at a luncheon hosted by the Downtown Austin Alliance (Downtown Alliance).
Traffic congestion presents the biggest challenge to downtown Austin’s continued growth. The Downtown Alliance is working with regional transportation agencies and downtown stakeholders on solutions to improve mobility into, out of and around downtown, including I-35.
“With the Mobility35 project, we have an opportunity to improve access and mobility, eliminate barriers and create a healthier, safer and more vibrant Austin,” Dewitt Peart, Downtown Alliance president and CEO, said. “We are pleased to support Senator Watson’s effort to restart the conversation and continue the momentum to move this project forward.”
As part of Mobility35, TxDOT broke ground earlier this month on reconstruction of the Slaughter Creek overpass in South Austin. Additional construction projects that are expected to begin this year include:
- Main lane and frontage road improvements from Stassney Lane to William Cannon Drive, and a new overpass at William Cannon Drive
- Northbound operational improvements from SH 45 North to US 79
- Ramp reversals from RM 150 to the Blanco River in Hays County
- A new southbound frontage road intersection at 51st Street
- Southbound ramp reversals from RM 1431 to FM 3406
- Main lane and frontage road improvements, and a new intersection at Oltorf Street
Additionally, TxDOT has developed the Mobility35 Traffic Management Systems Master Plan, which will incorporate the latest technologies to provide I-35 users the information they need to make decisions about how, when and where they want to travel.
For more information about the project, visit My35.org