AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin wrapped up its Interstate 35 feasibility study for the central section of the highway this past spring.
Now, city officials are moving into the next phase of the plan — the design phase. The city is working with Texas Department of Transportation to come up with a plan as the state transportation agency works to expand I-35 between U.S. 290 East and State Highway 71/Ben White Boulevard as part of the I-35 Capital Express Central Project.
Saturday will mark the first meeting of Our Future 35’s next phase. Our Future 35 or Austin’s Cap and Stitch Program is a community-centered initiative, according to its website.
A cap is essentially a large deck over a highway that could have greenspace on top. A stitch is a widened bridge that stretches east to west across the highway.
The latest designs for the $4.9 billion project from TxDOT include “lowered travel lanes, more than 15 widened east-west crossings, including a new connection at 5th Street for all users; and new pedestrian crossings at Cap Metro, Red Line/Future Gold Line south of Airport Boulevard, and between 51st Street and US 290 East, low design speeds on frontage roads, enhanced person-carrying capacity along the corridor by providing a reliable route for transit in managed lanes.”
TxDOT kicked off a virtual meeting on Aug. 10. Now through Sept. 24, the public can comment on the latest plans featuring Alternative 2 and Alternative 3. The Alternative 1 plan will not be moving forward.
For Austin’s Corridor Program Office Director Mike Trimble, there is a personal connection, so he wants to make sure they get it right.
“I’m third generation Austinite, my grandparents were some of those folks that were relocated to east Austin from west Austin being a Mexican American, and so I have kind of a personal passion for this,” he said. “I know, and I grew up with what I-35 has meant in our community as being that dividing line, and it’s just a great opportunity for us, and we want to make sure you know, we seize that opportunity in the best way possible.”
Trimble said they expect to reach 30% design by 2023. TxDOT does not have plans for construction until 2025. Our Future 35’s meeting will take place Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Native Hostel in east Austin.
TxDOT has plans to host an in-person I-35 Capital Express Central Aesthetics community meeting on Sept. 27 at Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The meeting will focus on “Live35″ (locally influenced visual enhancements), a program dedicated to exploring aesthetic opportunities for the I-35 Capital Express Central project.”