AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amid public testimony and hundreds of comments received in opposition of the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed Interstate 35 expansion, Travis County commissioners are submitting a letter calling for massive changes to the proposal.
TxDOT’s I-35 Capital Express Central Project is an eight-mile corridor that will widen I-35 and remove the upper decks, among other changes. However, the project is also expected to displace 107 properties along the corridor, including businesses and residences.
Commissioners presented 13 amendments they’d like to see to TxDOT’s $4.5 billion project. Some of those proposed changes included:
- The project should be designed so it doesn’t prevent future connections or capping opportunities in the future, as well as should add more east-west crossings
- The project should include water quality controls to treat and filter water runoff from I-35
- The project should prioritize reducing environmental, traffic and safety impacts on I-35, especially along frontage roads and east-west crossings
- The project should minimize the number of properties impacted by displacement
- The project should “substantially revise the I-35 draft environmental impact statement to reduce the burdens of the project placed on residential communities in Travis County,” prior to final documents being certified
- The project should work to reduce injuries and deaths to “vulnerable road users,” as well as should not go forward if the project doesn’t meet TxDOT’s Vision Zero roadway fatality goals
- The project should ensure air quality projections and study existing and future air pollution levels as a result of traffic-related emissions
- TxDOT should look into future investments in rail systems between the Austin and San Antonio corridors to reduce dependency and emissions from vehicular traffic
Commissioners commended public speakers as well as those who submitted comments on the project proposal. Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion said this project has “multi-generation” impacts and it is critical for residents, as well as TxDOT, to think about the longstanding implications this expansion could have on the I-35 corridor.
“This is a place that we certainly advocate for what is going to be best for generations of Austinites, not something that is going to be another monument to power,” Travillion said.
TxDOT is collecting public comments on its I-35 central expansion project through March 7. More details on how to submit feedback is available online.