GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Today, a drive from Round Rock to downtown Austin may take up to an hour but transportation experts at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute believe the drive-time could double in the next 16 years if nothing is done to address congestion along Interstate 35.
Throughout the years, transportation officials have created different solutions including tunnels under I-35 and tolls didn’t get approved. Now, the Texas Department of Transportation is working to change up the exit and entrance ramps to the highway to keep commuters moving on the road.
Proposed plans to improve intersections along I-35 in Georgetown include:
- Reconstruct the intersections at I-35 and Southeast Inner Loop and Westinghouse Road
- Improve the existing I-35 southbound frontage road from north of SE Inner Loop to Ranch Road 1431
- Reverse entrance /exit ramps along the I-35 southbound frontage road between SE Inner Loop and RM 1431
- Improve bicycle and pedestrian sidewalks and paths
This is part of TxDOT’s Austin District Mobility35 project which focuses on improving I-35 from Hays to Williamson counties.
“It gets backed up on I-35 like crazy,” said Phoebe Waggoner, a fine arts teacher who commutes to Georgetown every morning from Cedar Park to teach at Eastview High School.
For Waggoner, the intersection of I-35 and SE Inner Loop can cause a headache because she has to “wait at that light for probably 10 to 15 minutes.”
TxDOT said their plans should ease some of the congestion. They’ll start by removing the Westinghouse Bridge and add in a continuous flow intersection.
“We are going to absolutely change the way that looks,” Diann Hodges, a spokesperson for TxDOT said. “We will take that bridge down and put the mainlanes of I-35 over Westinghouse Road.”
While some commuters may be wary of a continuous flow intersection Waggoner believes they make a difference.
“I feel like that’s a good proposal because whenever they did it at the I-35 and Ranch to Market Road 1431, no one wanted it, but now that they put it in traffic is great there,” Waggoner said.
TxDOT will also improve the intersection at I-35 and SE Inner Loop, as well as the southbound I-35 frontage road from north of SE Inner Loop to RM 1431 — a move that is music to Waggoner’s ears.
“That’s the biggest issue in Georgetown, getting from (SE Inner Loop) to (RM 1431),” she said.
Along the same frontage road, TxDOT has plans to reverse the entrance and exit ramps, changing the way you get on and off the highway. They said all of these plans will improve people’s commute.
Waggoner said it all sounds great, but she knows it’ll take time and “It’ll probably get worse before it gets better but, as with all construction.”
The environmental study and schematic design are expected to be completed next winter. If approved, construction could begin in Spring 2023.
TxDOT will be hosting a community meeting with more information at Carver Elementary School’s cafeteria in Georgetown, Thursday at 5:30 p.m. People who can’t attend can also learn more on their website. People have until April 19 to comment on the proposed improvements.