AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation continues to move forward with its plans to expand Interstate 35 through downtown Austin between U.S. 290 East and State Highway 71/Ben White Boulevard. That stretch is about eight miles long, and there are concerns surrounding the homes and businesses that line the highway.

Places like Aria Grand, an affordable housing complex in Austin’s Travis Heights neighborhood on the corner of the south I-35 frontage road and Woodland Avenue, are worried about the plan. TxDOT initially did not take the building into account while starting to design its building plans for the expansion.

That’s because the transportation agency officials said they rely on Travis County Appraisal District maps, Google images and Bing. When reviewing those maps, Aria Grand did not exist. It was just a vacant plot of land. The 70-unit housing complex opened in early 2020.

At the beginning of this year, TxDOT released an updated design with modifications that would account for the complex. A building alternative that carves out space to keep Aria Grand. However, there is another that could have an impact on the area, building alternative 2. TxDOT could also decide not to build and keep I-35 just as it is.

From previous coverage, these are the changes TxDOT has made since the August community meeting:

Alternative 2 changes

  • Accommodations for deck plazas from Fourth Street to Eighth Street only
  • Removing cap opportunity between Cesar Chavez Street and Fourth Street to minimize displacements

Alternative 3 changes

  • Displacement reductions by approximately 20 properties
  • Removal of proposed flyovers at Hwy. 290 East
  • All lanes lowered at Airport Boulevard, as opposed to elevated managed lanes
  • New bicycle and pedestrian crossings at Thurd, 15th and 41st streets
  • Mainlanes, managed lanes both lowered at Holly Street, while bypass lanes are elevated
  • Innovative intersection, known as a single point urban interchange, at East Riverside Drive to help accommodate Project Connect’s Blue Line
  • Bicycle and pedestrian-only intersection at Woodland Avenue
  • Shifting northbound frontage road to west side of downtown “to create a boulevard-style section” from Cesar Chavez Street to Dean Keeton Street.
  • Palm Park connection to east of I-35
  • Access removal at Woodward Street

Both alternatives have undergone the following changes since August’s workshop:

  • Alley access to Crestwood
  • Reconfigured northbound ramp near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • Addition of U-turn on northern side of Lady Bird Lake
  • Ardenwood Road will no longer connect to frontage road due to Red Line bridge

TxDOT is expected to select a preferred alternative option to move forward with early next year following a public hearing.

The transportation agency will host a series of pop-up meetings starting next week to discuss the project and share information on the alternatives.

I-35 Capital Express Central Pop-Up Meeting

Date: March 22, 2022

Time: 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Project: I-35 Capital Express Central

Citi Trends
1144 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78702

I-35 Capital Express Central Pop-Up Meeting

Date: March 23, 2022

Time: 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Project: I-35 Capital Express Central

Goodwill Central Texas – Riverside
1819 S Pleasant Valley Road, Suite B
Austin, TX 78741

I-35 Capital Express Central Pop-Up Meeting

Date: March 24, 2022

Time: 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Project: I-35 Capital Express Central

Goodwill Central Texas – Airport
836 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78702

KXAN is waiting to hear back from Aria Grand management.