Driving on the main lanes of I-35 can involve a lot of weaving, slowing and stopping. In the words of State Sen. Kirk Watson, it’s a mess. And it’s about to get even messier, at least for the next four years or so.
On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Transportation broke ground on a massive improvement project on the interstate. The goal is to reduce congestion on a section of I-35 between Stassney Lane and William Cannon Drive. Crews will be widening lanes, adding new entrance and exit ramps and U-turn lanes.
That means commuters will have to get used to driving alongside those big orange cones, but Watson says the project is a worthy investment.
“What we’re attempting to do is address the growth that we’re seeing in Travis County and in Austin, Texas,” he said at the project’s groundbreaking yesterday. “Just the idea that maybe you would add a bunch of lanes doesn’t necessarily solve your congestion problems. It’s doing it in a smart way, and that’s what our planning process has led us to.”
The $79 million project will span just more than three miles of the interstate. At the groundbreaking, Austin Mayor Steve Adler doubled down on his push for infrastructure improvements throughout the city. He has proposed a $720 million bond package to fund upgrades for major roadways, and says mobility is directly tied to Austin’s affordability problem.
“Housing costs in this city are going up in part because everybody wants to live downtown because people can’t move around this city,” Adler said. “We need to fix that.”
The bond package is likely to go before voters this November.