AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is giving you a second chance to weigh in on proposed changes to Interstate Highway 35 in Central Austin.
Late last year, TxDOT hosted a virtual public scoping meeting to gather public input on the concepts for overhauling the interstate. The state agency received more than 2,200 public comments.
The second chance to weigh in starts on Thursday and lasts until April 9. If you didn’t weigh in the first time, you still can this time.
“We are needing to get it environmentally cleared, and to do that, we need the public's help. We need to hear what their concerns are, what they would like to see this project look like,” said Diann Hodges, spokesperson for TxDOT.
All three of the concepts call for removing the upper decks of I-35 and lowering the lanes of travel through downtown. All plans also include reconstructing the bridge over Lady Bird Lake.
The project would add two managed lanes in each direction. For the managed lanes, TxDOT is proposing making those carpool or HOV – high occupancy vehicle – lanes. They could also be for transit, Hodges said.
One of the concepts proposes tunneling the managed lanes. All the proposals keep the frontage roads at surface level.
“It’s not like we can expand in great length on either side of I-35,” Hodges told KVUE in November. “We have to look at the footprint that we have there and how do we add capacity, which is need – much needed – through Downtown Austin while impacting the right-of-way the least. And the way you do that is to go down.”
Each proposal also includes adding a shared-use path along the freeway, Hodges said.
In total, the project stretches about 8 miles from State Highway 290 to State Highway 71.
TxDOT is planning an open house for the public this summer to take a closer look at some of the concepts. The environmental approval process will take through 2023 and construction is not expected to start until 2025.
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