Drivers know the challenge of driving on I-35
“There's traffic, Saturday, Sunday, during the week of course,” said driver Ryan Royal.
According to a Texas A&M study, Austin drivers spend 52 hours a year in gridlock.
That's more than larger cities like San Antonio, Cleveland and Denver. Ryan Royal moved here in 1999.
“It's completely different from what it was back then,” said Royal.
TXDOT heard the call of population growth. Officials are looking at 40 projects related to I-35 improvements. There are already six active construction projects now. Thursday TXDOT presented the South 10-mile Comprehensive Project.
Officials hope to add things like extended entrance and exit lanes, so you have more time to merge. One of the biggest highlights, they hope to add express lanes north, and southbound.
“It's great for transit by being able to provide reliable transportation routes for buses, if you choose to take a bus, or choose to carpool. It also provides that enhanced reliable route for those drivers willing to pay a toll,” said Kelly Reyna, TXDOT spokesperson.
“No one really wants toll lanes but in order to move congestion more, I think it's necessary,” said Royal.
TXDOT stresses these designs are all preliminary. If the public likes the proposals, it will then go to environmental approval and up the chain of command.
“We want to hear the public's comments, we want to hear their concerns,” said Reyna.
“I think it's a step in the right direction. I think it'll be a while before we catch up to where we need to be, considering how many people are moving to Austin every day,” said Royal.
With the ideas on the table, TXDOT will listen to the comments they receive, and decide if express lanes and all the other ideas are worth the investment.
If approved, the project will cost between $300 and $350 million. The tolls would run at a variable rate, like Mopac currently does.