Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to add more clarity about the project timeline. Although the City of Austin voted on a resolution to delay the I-35 expansion project, the state makes the final decision on whether to move forward with the project.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are plans to update and increase the water resilience for south Austin residents as part of the Interstate 35 expansion project.
As part of the plans to widen the interstate that cuts through Austin, the Texas Department of Transportation, which is heading the project, will have to relocate current water and wastewater lines placed along I-35 between Holly Street and Ben White Boulevard.
TXDOT is responsible for funding the relocation effort, but the city of Austin is asking that when the lines are relocated, they are also upgraded. Austin city council voted to enter into an advanced funding agreement with TXDOT to complete the project. Austin Water will be responsible for paying for the “betterments” of the system.
What will be different?
The lines currently in place now were put there in the 1950s, according to Kevin Koeller, a division manager at Austin Water. In the last 70 years, our technology and population have changed and the water lines will need to reflect that.
“For example, we don’t use concrete any more for wastewater. That was installed in the 70s and that deteriorates. The newer material is erosion resistant,” Koeller explained.
The betterment portion of the project consists of constructing 19,800 feet of water lines and 3,200 feet of wastewater lines, according to city documents.
The timeline of the project is up in the air currently. During the Oct. 19 city council meeting, city council voted on a resolution to delay the I-35 expansion project until there is a better understanding of what the environmental impact would be if the interstate were widened.
That resolution acts as a request to TxDOT not to move forward with the project right now. However, this is a TxDOT project and the decision-making falls to the state, according to a TxDOT spokesperson.