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How Would You Fix I-35?

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

It’s one of Austin’s favorite things to complain about: gridlock on the interstate. Just yesterday, we learned how the average person wastes 38 hours a year stuck in traffic in Austin.  A good percentage of that is spent idling on that north-south thoroughfare.

The City of Austin has reached the point where it is turning to average, everyday commuters for some ideas on how to make I-35 less awful from US 183 to William Cannon. You can drop by the Palmer Events Center today from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. and deliver your advice in person. Or you can contact the city via email.

“I think folks can bring us some excellent clues in terms of, ‘Here’s what I’m experiencing. Here’s why it is challenging to me. Here’s what I think from a layperson standpoint could be done to address the issue that I am seeing,” said Gary Schatz with the City of Austin Transportation Department.

Schatz said numerous studies over the years have examined the physical expansion of I-35 but “they didn’t get any traction,” he said. The city is approaching the issue under the assumption that it would not expand the footprint of I-35.

“The real estate we have is what we have,” Schatz said. “Other than maybe a little bit of a corner here for some sidewalk or a little bit of a corner there for a right turn lane.”

The Texas Department of Transportation has plans to widen I-35 from the northern Williamson County line to Hillsboro, about 50 miles north of Waco.  

TxDOT’s I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee recommend a year ago to widen the interstate from Georgetown to San Antonio. The cost of that project was pegged at up to $3.5 billion. That price tag doesn’t include the cost of buying land needed to expand the highway, nor does it calculate the financial impact on adjacent property owners.

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 X @KUTnathan.
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