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Should Austin Bury I-35? Proposal to Reconnect City Gets New Look (Update)

Update (June 20): This morning Austin City Council members decided to go ahead and approve a resolution supporting a I-35 National Environmental Policy Act study for a plan to reconnect East & West Austin by submerging it from approximately River Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Council also directed the City Manager to develop an economic impact study and look at associated financing options.

Original Post (June 18): As the Texas Department of Transportation looks for ideas for the future of I-35, one vision is being proposed that could drastically alter Central Austin.

The so-called “Cut & Cap” plan, which was proposed by urban designer and architect Sinclair Black, would submerge I-35 underground from River Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, and cover the highway with an urban boulevard and a park.

Black has estimated the costof the project at about $550 million.

This morning, the Austin City Council met to debate the worthiness of approving an economic impact analysis for the “Cut & Cap” plan. This Thursday, the Council will vote on a resolution that would study the plan's financial viability.

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, had this to say about the potential design:

“Cities across the country are engaging in innovative approaches to the design and use of their aging highway infrastructure and seeing them as opportunities for new boulevards and parks. As a result, neighborhoods have been stitched back together, noise and smog have been reduced, and real estate values have increased. TXDoT is currently considering various mobility scenarios that increase our transportation capacity and the city is interested in maximizing the options under consideration to include new approaches.”

For more information on the proposed “Cut & Cap” plan you can visit Sinclair Black’s Reconnect Austin site here, and watch a video below.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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