TxDOT holds public hearing on I-35 expansion project

Thursday was the final, in person opportunity for the community to provide comments on the "I-35 Capital Express Central Project."

"What we're proposing to do is add two non-tolled HOV lanes, high occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction of I-35 from US 290 east down to State Highway 71/ Ben White Boulevard," says TxDOT communications director, Brad Wheelis.

The project would also: lower the I-35 main lanes between Airport Boulevard and Lady Bird Lake and Riverside Drive and Oltorf Street; remove the upper decks; widen east-west cross-street bridges; add boulevard-style segments through downtown; and enhance pedestrian and bicycle paths.

This design will improve mobility along the corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians by adding more than 16 miles of new shared-use paths, constructing 13 widened east-west crossings with 30 feet on each side for bicycle and pedestrian paths and safety buffers, reconstructing 17 bridges or cross-streets and constructing bicycle and pedestrian-only bridges throughout the corridor.

I-35 hasn't had a major renovation, like what's being proposed, since the 1970s.

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TxDOT says they will be taking the community's suggestions into consideration as they finalize the project.

Brad Wheelis with TxDOT says the portion that runs through the City of Austin is way overdue for an expansion.

"We have reached capacity on I-35. Anybody who drives it knows that it is gridlocked during the morning and afternoon rush and even sometimes in the middle of the day or the night," says Wheelis.

During Thursday's public hearing, community members were able to talk with the engineers, learn more about the expansion project and give feedback to TxDOT.

"That is my plan to do before I leave today and to speak with someone and to make sure that. They are aware of the importance of working with the businesses, property owners to interrupt their normal business hours as little possible," says Sheila Morris who owns a business on I-35.

The goal of expansion plan is to reduce traffic, but several Austin residents are worried the plan will have a negative impact on the city.

"There are so many businesses that are along that route, you know, that are going to be displaced because of that," says high school student Ches.

TxDOT says they will be taking the community's suggestions into consideration as they finalize the project.

A virtual public hearing will be available on My35CapEx.com beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9 until Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

Comments may be submitted using any of the following methods:

  • Online: My35CapEx.com
  • Email: CapExCentral@txdot.gov
  • Verbal comment by voicemail: (512) 651-2948
  • Mail: I-35 Capital Express Central Project Team, 1608 W. 6th Street, Austin, TX 78703

"We'll go back to the engineering table. We'll look and say, is this feasible from an engineering standpoint? Is this something that improves safety? Is it safe to do? And then is it cost-effective? Can it fit into the budget if we can make those tweaks and changes," says Wheelis.