TxDOT moving forward with I-35 improvements in Austin via Mobility35 program

Updated Jun 27, 2016
Interstate 35 through East Austin, Texas.Interstate 35 through East Austin, Texas.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced it is making progress with its Mobility35 Program for improving Interstate 35 in Austin, a program launched in 2011 in a partnership with the city of Austin, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and other agencies.

The plan, which will range in costs from $4.3 to $4.6 billion, TxDOT says, is made up of individual improvement projects along I-35 in Hayes, Travis and Williamson counties, and will ultimately improve “safety and mobility on six of the Top 100 Most Congested Roadway segments in Texas.” The agency adds that the segment of the interstate between U.S. 290E and Texas 71 was ranked number one in 2015.

“I-35 through Williamson, Travis and Hays counties was originally built more than 50 years ago,” says TxDOT Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy. “Improvements have not kept pace with population and economic growth, and traffic congestion is hurting our quality of life. Addressing congestion on this vital north-south corridor is a priority for our community, our leaders and our agency.”

The department plans to hold a series of public meetings to cover the environmental studies for three projects in Travis County this summer along the U.S. 290E and Texas 71 area. These include the North16, Central7 and South10 projects, which includes studying adding an express lane in each direction from RM 1431 to Texas 45 southeast. TxDOT says the area is congested for six hours each day, a period of time that would increase to 9 hours by 2040 if nothing is done.

TxDOT also plans to transform I-35 into “a smart and efficient highway system” by updating the Traffic Management System in the area. “These systems will incorporate the latest technologies to provide motorists with information to make smart travel decisions and stay safe on the road,” the agency says.

Projects underway now, which include work on the Slaughter Creek overpass at exit 226 in Travis County, are being funded by $110.7 million from Proposition 1 funds, $158.6 million from Congestion Relief Initiative Funds and state gas tax revenues and “local investments.”

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This weekend the Slaughter Creek overpass is set to close for demolition and work on a wider structure is set to begin shortly after in addition to widening of the southbound I-35 frontage road in the area. The project will cost roughly $9.2 million and take about a year.

“The Mobility35 Program is a smart approach to transforming this outdated road into an efficient highway system, while incorporating what our community values – innovation, technology and multi-modal options,” says State Senator Kirk Watson. “I’m especially encouraged by the substantial benefits that express lanes would provide to transit users. A toll-free, reliable trip makes transit an attractive option that will get people out of their cars and onto a bus.”