Extreme makeover proposed for Interstate 35 through downtown

May 07, 2019 - 6:11 pm

AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- Long considered one of the area's biggest traffic trouble spots, Interstate 35 through the downtown area could see a major makeover.

Officials with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO)'s Transportation Policy Board voted Monday night to commit $400 million towards the Texas Department of Transportation's Capital Express project to improve Interstate 35.

TxDOT officials say I-35 through the downtown area is the third most congested roadway in the state, and the agency is proposing some $8 billion in improvements. The Capital Express plan, which TxDOT officials emphasize is preliminary, calls for the following improvements:

  • Between SH 45 and US 290 East: Adding a managed lane in each direction between SH 45 and US 290 East
  • Between Airport Blvd. and MLK Jr. Blvd.: removing the current upper deck, and putting in two lower levels - one of general purpose lanes, and another level of managed lanes
  • Between MLK Jr. Blvd. and Cesar Chavez: One level of general purpose and managed lanes below the ground level
  • Between Oltorf Street and SH 45 SE: All lanes back on ground level, with two managed lanes in each direction

The proposal calls for at least one managed lane in each direction for the entire length of the project. At this point, officials say they don't intend for those managed lanes to be tolled - instead, opting for high-occupancy vehicle lanes, transit-only lanes, or some other configuration.

TxDOT will still need to perform environmental studies and other planning for the project, and final approval for the funding CAMPO has allotted - along with the rest of the nearly $5.6 billion needed to construct the project - will need to come from the Texas Transportation Commission.

Officials are hoping to be able to finalize the project and begin construction by 2022, with a targeted completion date in 2027.

CAMPO officials also voted to allocate an additional $100 million in funding towards upgrades to two key corridors in the northern part of the metro area - $75 million to build frontage roads along 183A from RM 1431 to Avery Ranch Boulevard, and $25 million to build a grade-separated intersection at R.M. 620 and Anderson Mill Road.

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