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Get Ready To Relearn How To Drive I-35

Updated: Thursday, June 5 2014, 10:36 AM CDT

The Texas Department of Transportation has plans for I-35, but a lot of those plans may involve you having to relearn how to drive the interstate through Austin. TxDOT plans to reduce the number of on and off ramps and reconfigure many major intersections to get the traffic moving.

A lot of the problems on I-35 through Austin have to do with growth. The capacity of the interstate just hasn't kept up with Austin's population boom.  

Terry McCoy, TxDOT's district engineer for Austin, says, "Things have changes and people's driving habits and the automobiles and the amount of congestion that we face so it's a different world today. We're trying to change I-35 to adapt to current conditions."

There's no shortage of plans. They're thinking of adding lanes to I-35 and to the frontage roads. And they might lower the main lanes into the ground and cap them with a park.

Some of these improvements will take getting used to. Half of the on and off ramps through downtown will have to go. And every major intersection will get some kind of new traffic flow.

The work has already started at Parmer Lane where through traffic on the frontage road will get its own lane to duck around the traffic light.  

TxDOT has $2 billion worth of improvements planned. And -- as we learned today -- some of that may have to come from the local drivers.  

Austin's State Senator Kirk Watson notes, "A large percentage of the people on that road everyday are people who start their commute in this region and end their commute in this region."

Senator Watson says some creative financing may be needed. He's thinking a portion of local car registration fees could be directed to this kind of roadwork. We'll see what the next legislature thinks of that idea.

By Fred Cantu

Get Ready To Relearn How To Drive I-35


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