Austin in Race Against Time to Secure Freeway Cap Funding

With a major freeway expansion project looming, the Texas capital is seeking federal funding to build several freeway ‘decks’ downtown.

1 minute read

September 27, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Interstate 35 with blurred traffic and Austin, Texas skyline in background with river in foreground at nighttime.

Ryan Conine / Adobe Stock

As the Texas Department of Transportation plows ahead with plans to expand Interstate 35 through downtown Austin in spite of local opposition to the project, local leaders hope to secure federal funding for freeway caps to mitigate the impact.

As Chase Rogers reports in the Austin American-Statesman, “Proponents see the inclusion of "caps" and "stitches" over the highway as a means to rectify the downsides of carving a thoroughfare through a major city, including the bifurcation of Austin's neighborhoods.” The new decks could create 30 acres of new real estate for park land, bike paths, and pedestrian walkways.

Due to a deadline from TxDOT, the city must make a final decision and secure funding for the project by December 2024. “TxDOT cannot allocate funding for the decks because that addition is considered cosmetic,” Rogers explains. The city hopes part of the funding will come from a Reconnecting Communities grant.

Elsewhere in the city, “University of Texas officials are exploring how to build three decks over I-35 between Dean Keeton and 15th streets, adjacent to the university's Mike A. Myers Stadium and Moody Center. As imagined in TxDOT renderings, the proposal would create 17 acres of new campus space positioned above the shrunken highway.”

Friday, September 22, 2023 in Austin American-Statesman

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