City seeks input on proposals to add decks and widened bridges over I-35 in Central Austin

The city is looking for feedback on its cap and stitch proposal, which is in the preliminary stages. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
The city is looking for feedback on its cap and stitch proposal, which is in the preliminary stages. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)

The city is looking for feedback on its cap and stitch proposal, which is in the preliminary stages. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)

While the Texas Department of Transportation receives public comment on its I-35 Capital Express Central designs, the city of Austin has opened their own I-35 surveys focusing on the proposed cap and stitch design.

According to a press release from the city of Austin, the plans are still “preliminary” and the surveys represent some of the first opportunities for public input. It also said the cap and stitch plans are based on recommendations from the Urban Land Institute.

A 2020 report by the Urban Land Institute proposed caps—large decks that would go over highways—running from East Caesar Chavez to East Fourth streets and East 11th to East 12th streets, as well as two caps between East Sixth Street and East Eighth Street.

The report also listed East Dean Keeton Street, Manor Road, East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, East Fifth Street and River Street, as possible locations for stitches, which are widened bridges that could include protected bike and pedestrian paths.

The city has offered two surveys to get feedback on the proposals. The first asks for input on what to put on top of the caps and stitches. The second focuses on the project’s branding, asking for feedback on its naming and color scheme.

“Over the next few months, the city and Downtown Austin Alliance will continue working with TxDOT to confirm the feasible locations of the caps and stitches that will be built overtop the revised I-35,” said Kelly Buethe, senior public information specialist at the city’s corridor program office, in an email.

The two city of Austin surveys will be open for comment until Oct. 1, and the TxDOT survey will be open until Sept. 24.

Funding and other community efforts

TxDOT operates I-35 and is funding the $4.9 billion project from Hwy. 290 to Hwy. 71. The transportation agency has said it is willing to redesign the stretch of I-35 through downtown in a way that is compatible with the cap and stitch proposal but would not fund the implementation of such an initiative.

“It's been made very clear by our commission and our administration that several of the category funds that are available to us, specifically category 2, category 4 and [category] 12, which make up the bulk of the funding for this project cannot be used for the local enhancements, and it needs to be raised locally,” TxDOT's Austin District Engineer Tucker Ferguson said during an Austin City Council meeting Aug. 31.

Other community-led proposals, including Reconnect Austin and Rethink 35, have continued to oppose the TxDOT designs, in part because they would expand the highway to 20 lanes in some places and could displace over 140 properties.

“TxDOT is really trying to push this project through a whole lot faster. Every time we ask them to slow down a little bit, and let the community understand it, they say, 'We have a project to deliver, we don’t have time,' and that makes me nervous” said Heyden Black Walker, one of the Reconnect Austin founders.
By Benton Graham

Metro Reporter, Austin

Benton joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter covering transportation in Central Texas in June 2021. Benton's writing has appeared in Vox, The Austin Chronicle, Austonia and Reporting Texas. Originally from Minneapolis, Benton graduated from William & Mary and eventually moved to Austin in 2018.


Fitness studio Body20 is coming soon to Bee Cave's Hill Country Galleria. (Courtesy Giant Noise Public Relations)
New fitness studio, candy pop-up shop coming to Hill Country Galleria

A new candy pop-up shop and fitness studio are coming to Bee Cave's Hill Country Galleria.

Photo of Austin Community College pharmacy students preparing vaccines
Austin Public Health ramps up COVID-19 booster shot offerings, prepares for pediatric vaccines

High-risk individuals who received Pfizer are Moderna doses six months ago or more are now eligible for boosters—as are most recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The first-ever Williamson County Fair and Rodeo opens its gates to guests Oct. 21 with live music, carnival rides, food vendors, rodeo events and more. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Inaugural Williamson County Fair and Rodeo underway; delivery drones coming to Friso and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 22.

Rendering of the UT Leona Child Development Center
UT Austin set to open new Child Development Center east of I-35

A new university child care facility is headed to 2216 Leona St.

Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey briefed City Council on Austin's spending of more than $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding on homelessness Oct. 21. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Officials share outlook of 3-year plan to house 3,000 homeless people in Austin

Although the path to build more than 1,000 new spaces for those without shelter will take time, officials believe the goals are achievable.

Photo off APD sign
Austin police cadet academy review notes positive strides but says instructors lack buy-in to 'reimagined' concept

Reforms at the Austin Police Department academy are mixed so far, while the department and outside evaluators agree on several potential improvements going forward.

Franklin Barbecue in East Austin closed its dining room in March 2020. (Courtesy Franklin Barbecue)
Franklin Barbecue to reopen dining room on 11th Street in Austin

The dining room will reopen just before Thanksgiving.

Cumby Group is planning development for three adjacent multifamily projects on Manor Road in East Austin, including The Emma apartments. (Courtesy Cumby Group)
3 years in, Austin is falling behind on goals in affordable housing plan

From 2018-20, the city only reached 12% of its 10-year goal to build thousands of new homes and rental units.

Taco Palenque is now open as drive-thru only in Round Rock. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Taco Palenque opens in Round Rock; Plano ISD considering two draft calendars for 2022-23 school year and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 21.

The Austin Transit Partnership is exploring above- and below-ground options for a transit center at the East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley intersection. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
Project Connect plans to explore above-, below-ground options for East Riverside/Pleasant Valley Transit Center

After hosting a community design workshop, the group overseeing Project Connect designs is moving forward with options for both an underground and above-ground station at the intersection.

A calculator created by the Rocky Mountain Institute looks at the environmental impact of TxDOT's proposed designs for I-35 in Central Austin, one of the most congested roadways in the country. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nonprofit's tool says TxDOT I-35 expansion proposals would have profound environmental consequences

The tool says that the proposal would create between 255 and 382 million additional vehicle miles traveled per year.