AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, Austin City Council approved a resolution seeking to hold funding from the Texas Department of Transportation for its I-35 Capital Express Central project until two climate strategy plans can be completed.
“While I-35 Central’s groundbreaking is inevitable, Austinites have shown strong support of efforts to reduce car-dependency and slow climate change, and it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to get this multigenerational project right,” said Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis. She authored the resolution.
Council Members Mackenzie Kelly and Leslie Pool voted against the resolution, along with Mayor Kirk Watson. Still, the resolution passed.
TxDOT responded to the resolution shortly after Thursday’s vote saying it “is not indicative of the partnership TxDOT has cultivated with the city.”
The resolution does not stop TxDOT from continuing with its project, but serves as a request.
“We acted in good faith to bring our partners into the planning of this critical safety and mobility project. Delaying all the great work so many have done getting to this point is unwarranted and only delays the benefits that will be realized and would be fiscally irresponsible as construction costs will only continue to rise,” said TxDOT Austin District Engineer Tucker Ferguson.
The I-35 Central project is an eight-mile stretch running from U.S. Highway 290 East to State Highway 71 and Ben White Boulevard. It has been highly controversial for Austinites.
According to TxDOT, Interstate 35 in downtown Austin continues to be one of the most congested highways in the state.
The Texas Clear Lanes project, which is estimated at $4.5 billion, is in the final design and review phase, the release said. Construction is expected to begin in mid-2024.