A new plan to improve Interstate 35 would add an additional lane on the upper decks of the highway between 15th and 51st Streets in Austin, according to a modified proposal announced today by state and city lawmakers.
"The auxiliary lanes will give you a mile and a half to move into the main lanes of the upper deck and move those exiting to Airport [Blvd.] out of the main lanes," says Senator Kirk Watson, who laid out the new plan at a luncheon on Monday.
The new plan would also lower I-35 between Cesar Chavez Street to north of 12th Street, but that section wouldn’t be covered. Some local groups wanted to cap the highway to create parkland.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler says the highway would be built so the city could cover it— or cap it — later. But he says any money to do that has to come from the city.
“Because the caps don’t add to mobility, the community is going to have to rally to make that part of the project work,” Adler says.
The Mobility35 plan includes dozens of standalone projects in Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. Watson says each part of the project is important.
“Think of it as a series of pearls that by themselves each is valuable, but we want to string them all together," he says.
But it could be a decade before the projects are completed, and not all of them have funding yet. Right now, the entire bill is $4.3 billion. Voters already approved a proposition that put $1.2 billion toward roads last year. And this fall, another proposition heads to voters. This one would direct $2.5 billion in vehicle sales tax revenue to the state beginning in 2017.