AUSTIN (KXAN) — Four transportation advocacy organizations from across the state gathered in Austin on Wednesday to protest the Texas Department of Transportation’s Texas Transportation Commission or TTC meeting’s public comment process.
Austin-based ReThink35 is fighting TXDOT’s proposed expansion of I-35 through downtown. Instead of more lanes, the group wants to replace the highway with what they call a “vibrant urban boulevard.”
ReThink35 alongside Stop TxDOT I-45 from Houston, ActivateSA from San Antonio and a group from El Paso all came together in solidarity with those from ActivateSA to voice their concerns about an ongoing issue surrounding a two-mile stretch of a road.
The other part of their trip to Austin includes the public comment process protest. Members of the transportation advocacy groups want to be able to comment virtually during the TTC meetings.
“That is our absolute basic request,” explained Adam Greenfield, co-founder of ReThink35. “There are so many more ways of engaging with our transportation governance than giving public comment and there needs to be but this is just come on, guys, it’s 2022. Let’s push for something that is positive that will meet the needs of Texans in the 21st century.”
TxDOT said it accepts public comment at any time through its website. However, live comments on a TTC agenda item or other issues are only accepted in person at the meetings. The meetings happen each month and during the meeting, there is a one-hour public comment period. Those with the groups are calling on TxDOT to add a virtual option to its Commission meetings.
“I really hope that the TTC seriously considers allowing virtual comments, because there are so many people that truly care about transportation, infrastructure, about the things that affect the communities, their homes, their jobs, their lives, and would love to give input would love to be involved, but they just can’t,” said Ally Smither with Stop TxDOT I-45.