AUSTIN March 10, 2020 - In an effort to accelerate funding and construction on I-35 through Central Texas, the Texas Transportation Commission (Commission) will discuss a proposed plan at its meeting on Feb. 27 to add an additional $4.3 billion to build new lanes on I-35 through Austin. The funding would be in addition to money already approved by the Commission, bringing the total investment on the I-35 Capital Express Project to $7.5 billion.
Full funding for the central segment of the I-35 Capital Express Project would require three additional funding decisions. The first source is about $3.4 billion in discretionary funding that the Commission will discuss. The second needed source of funding would be more than $600 million from TxDOT funds previously allocated to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), which would need to be reprioritized from planned projects that have not yet gone into the procurement process. The I-35 Capital Express Project is CAMPO’s top priority project for the region. The third component of the funding is about $300 million that will be considered by the Commission when it votes on the 2021 Unified Transportation Program in August 2020. The new funding is the result of years of planning and discussions with Governor Greg Abbott, regional transportation planners and stakeholders.
“Chairman Bruce Bugg and the Texas Transportation Commission have made tremendous progress to fully fund and deliver the I-35 Capital Express Project as a non-tolled project,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “This project will relieve traffic congestion for all those who travel on I-35 through Austin, while helping our capital city meet the needs of a growing population. I thank Chairman Bugg, Commissioners Laura Ryan, Alvin New, and Robert Vaughn, and all the key stakeholders for working collaboratively to secure this important funding, and look forward to working with them to address our transportation needs across the state.”
“In recent years, I-35 through Austin has repeatedly been one of the worst chokepoints for drivers in Austin and Texas and the source for understandable frustration,” said Texas Transportation Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. “The I-35 Capital Express Project is a statewide strategic priority project, not just for Austin, but the State of Texas. If Austin wants to continue to be a beacon for business and a wonderful quality of life, then work on I-35 Capital Express needs to happen as soon as possible. I am delighted and honored to work with my fellow Commissioners and key transportation leaders to secure this funding for the top priority project through Austin.”
“I-35 through downtown Austin is a state and regional strategic priority. It must be. This proposal to invest an additional $4.3 billion in funds to address I-35 is the kind of bold investment we need,” said Senator Kirk Watson. “I'm very proud to have worked for years on the plan for making I-35 more functional, more transit friendly and less of a scar through our community. This is an enormous step forward. I thank Governor Abbott and Chairman Bugg for working closely with me, seeing this stretch of road as a priority and for being willing to make such a bold investment.”
With the funding TxDOT and its partners will be able to move forward, adding two continuous non-tolled managed lanes in each direction along the 7.9 mile section on I-35 from US 290 East to US 290 West/SH71. Additional auxiliary lanes in various places and frontage roads would also be built.
The funding pulled together for I-35 in Austin will not have any impact on projects in the area currently already in the procurement process, including U.S. 183 North and the Oak Hill Parkway project. In fact, in the CAMPO region, there are projects that will continue totaling an additional $267 million; $107 million are funded by local funds, and $160 million are funded TxDOT funds.
The new construction should be well underway as additional traffic on I-35 through Austin is expected. Between 2016 and 2040, it is projected that we will add an additional 116,000 vehicles per day on I-35 bringing the I-35 corridor in Austin more pressure and congestion than ever before. For these reasons, Bugg said, “Any further delay in funding improvements to I-35 is simply unacceptable.”
For the past three years, I-35 in Austin has ranked #2 or #3 of the state’s Top 100 Most Congested Road Segments (2019-#2, 2018-#3, 2017-#2). Addressing this congestion issue is a statewide strategic priority project, not only for Austin, but for the state of Texas and the nation.
“It’s finally time to address Austin’s worse congestion chokepoint once and for all,” said Bugg.
The I-35 Capital Express Project is one of the key projects that is part of a statewide congestion relief effort called Texas Clear Lanes. More about this initiative can be found at TexasClearLanes.com