Three mile, four year I-35 construction underway in South Austin

A ground breaking ceremony Wednesday morning officially kicks off a $79-million project to revamp I-35.

The work will focus on a section between Stassney Lane and William Cannon. While it will take four years to complete, Mayor Steve Adler said it represents something much bigger. "We have to do the work if this city is going to survive and save the spirit and soul that makes Austin special,” said Mayor Adler.

TX DOT will build new bridges, widen lanes, put in U-turns, reconfigure ramps, as well as install dedicated routes for bicycles and pedestrians.

For Heberto Lira, having more sidewalks and fewer incidents of dodging traffic will be worth the wait.

"It’s something that we're going to need to do eventually; we might as well start now,” said Lira.

The project is just one of many getting underway right now and as a result construction barrels are going to be a common site up-and-down I 35 for the next 15 to 20 years. Between Round Rock and San Marcos 7 construction projects are now funded and have 2016 start dates. With nearly 40 more almost ready to make the jump off the drawing board, State Senator Kirk Watson, Wednesday, offered an understatement about the coming work.

"So as you can see this isn’t no small undertaking,” said Sen. Watson.

Innovated designs will be used at several locations like what's scheduled to happen this fall next to the 51st street overpass. Traffic lights are to be replaced by a round-a-bout on the southbound frontage lanes. It’s an approach that seems a little foreign to drivers like Ralph Saucedo.

"We got people from other countries, I guess, figuring out how to fix our system, that they're not from Texas, I guess, because they're bringing in everything from London, Europe. We've got big cars here, we don’t have little cars,” said Saucedo.

Frustration about all of the construction will certainly increase.

But a recent study warned doing nothing is no longer an option.  By 2035, if the gridlock is not addressed, it’s estimated the nearly 20 mile commute from Georgetown to downtown Austin could take almost 3 hours to complete.