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Panel Calls For Switching I-35 With SH 130 In Central Texas And Increasing Rail Transport

This map shows one proposal from the I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee set up by TxDOT.
Image courtesy TxDOT
This map shows one proposal from the I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee set up by TxDOT.

To ease congestion in Central Texas, the state should switch part of I-35 with SH 130, remove tolls on 130 and add two tolled lanes on I-35. That's the recommendation contained in a report by an advisory panel to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee’s recommendation involves the following actions: A. Converting one general purpose lane on I-35 in each direction to a minimum of one dynamically-priced managed lane and two non-tolled lanes in each direction from US 195 to SH 45SE and re-designating the facility from an interstate to a non-interstate facility B. Widening SH 130 to six lanes from US 195 north of Georgetown to SH 45SE in Mustang Ridge, removing the tolls, and re-designating this portion of SH 130 as I-35 C. Widening SH 45SE to six lanes from Mustang Ridge to northeast of Buda to I-35, removing the tolls, and re-designating SH 45SE as I-35 D. Widening SH 130 to six lanes from Mustang Ridge to I-10 in Seguin and removing the tolls (this portion would remain designated as SH 130)

The advisory panel says because it's such a complex proposal, it's not possible to estimate the cost of such a project.

The report says the state needs to focus more on rail to ease congestion.

In the urban areas of the I-35 corridor, such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, it is simply not possible to construct enough roadways to meet the anticipated traffic demand that will come as the state’s population doubles in size over the next three decades. …. There are also some opportunities to re-route existing rail lines to make them more efficient, safer and faster. This re-routing would remove a large portion of hazardous materials from the most populated areas and provide an opportunity to re-purpose existing rail lines within urbanized areas to a more appropriate 21st century use - moving passengers between our increasingly vibrant urban centers.

But with state facing a major budget gap, the funding of such a project may be uncertain. The Lone Star Rail District estimates the cost for the passenger component of the plan to be between $600 and $800 million.  Relocating freight rail lines is estimated to be as much as $1.7 billion.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.