Austin City Council Urges TxDOT to Reconsider I-35 Expansion

In a letter to the department, the city called for an increased focus on shifting demand away from single-occupancy vehicles and boosting other forms of transportation.

Read Time: 2 minutes

April 1, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Texas

Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

The city of Austin is criticizing a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plan to expand Interstate 35 through the city's center, which local officials feel does not "sufficiently respond to the needs identified by the City of Austin," as reported by Bryce Newberry for KVUE. In a letter to the department, assistant city manager Gina Fiandaca "outlined concerns over safety, connecting East and Central Austin, and how well the plan would address congestion in the region." Last Thursday, "the city council approved a resolution urging TxDOT to take 'positive action' on the City’s comments and directing the city manager’s office to launch an independent public input process on the project."

The letter said "TxDOT’s proposal does not meet Austin’s Strategic Mobility Plan, approved by the council in 2019, which addresses the next 20 years of transportation in the capital city. It forecasts that by 2039, 50% of Austinites will drive alone, while the other 50% will use other forms of transportation, such as bikes or transit." Fiandaca went on to write, "we cannot build ourselves out of congestion by expanding unmanaged capacity for single occupancy vehicles" through expanded freeways, but "must do everything possible to shift travel demand from driving alone to other forms of transportation." Austin "is urging TxDOT to account for things like high-capacity transit or bicycle systems with the expansion project." Other critics have called the project, as originally proposed, a "generational failure" that fails to look to the future of transportation.

TxDOT has faced similar pushback from Houston, where a controversial project to expand I-45 has drawn concerns from local activists, as well as a lawsuit

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