Reliably Austin
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

City Looks at Building Toll Lanes on I-35

Traffic backs up on I-35, also known as "the worlds largest parking lot" to some Austinites.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.
Traffic backs up on I-35, also known as "the worlds largest parking lot" to some Austinites.

A presentation to Austin City Council on Tuesday focused on plans for urban rail, but that didn't stop people from talking roads.

When asked what could be done to ease traffic congestion, Austin's Transportation Director Robert Spillar said his department was looking at adding toll lanes to the source of some of Austin's worst traffic: Interstate 35.

"When we look at I-35, traffic engineers both within our department as well as in the community believe that we can get some more capacity out of I-35," said Spillar.  "Can we add another lane of capacity within the existing footprint? I think we can."

Spillar said the new lanes would have to be "managed." That is to say, traffic would be tolled to raise revenue and control congestion on the lane. Spillar said that would give mass transit a "a congestion proof way to get into town"

But the plan is far from a done deal. New lanes on I-35 could add to Austin's traffic woes if they allow more cars to bottleneck at existing exits and main transit corridors within the city.

"With I-35 the question is, if we are able to create those new lanes of managed capacity, can we put them into the downtown grid at a different location as what the current access gets to?" Spillar said.

The Transportation Department wants to hire a consultant to look at improvements to I-35. Spillar said he will go to City Council on June 23rd to ask them to approve the contract.

A Texas Department of Transportation report released late last year, called My35, included a recommendation to toll one existing lane in each direction along the I-35 corridor in Austin.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
Related Content