Plans for I-35 updates in Austin to directly affect frequent commuters in Williamson, Travis counties

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Major infrastructure updates to I-35 as well as other area projects will move forward following unanimous approval from the Transportation Policy Board, the governing body of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, on May 6, Williamson County officials said May 7.

Williamson County Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long said during a regular county commissioners court meeting May 7 the approval—which would grant $400 million to revamp I-35 and an additional $100 million to be split between intersection improvements at RM 620 and Anderson Mill Road and new Toll 183A frontage roads—was monumental and would directly help frequent commuters between Williamson and Travis counties.

The project would cost $8.1 billion with around $5.6 billion funding construction costs. Prior to the May 6 vote, the TPB and the Texas Department of Transportation had already collectively committed $805 million to the Mobility35 project.

Long, who sits on the board, said the idea is to create one to two manage lanes in certain sections of the interstate in the city of Austin. She added about 50% to 60% of the cost will go toward fixing aging infrastructure.

Long said in theory the upper and lower decks in the I-35 downtown area would be removed, and most of the traffic would be depressed below ground in a tunnel for those who are just trying to go through the city, similar to what can be seen in Dallas. She added traffic lights and those who are making exits within the city would be improved but will remain much like they are seen now.

“It’s mostly Travis County but let’s face it, … we [in Williamson County] contribute to the problems on I-35 with our folks who commute daily in and out of Travis County,” Long said.

Project details still need to be finalized and are still pending final approval from the Texas Transportation Commission, she added.

“I think this is the most significant vote we have made since my tenure on CAMPO,” Long said.

In other transportation business:

  • A second Williamson County Citizens Bond Committee meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 8 in Precinct 2 at 1435 Main St., Cedar Park. On March 5, the court called for a committee to be formed to review and analyze the infrastructure needs of Williamson County to determine if the county should consider a bond election in November. During the meeting, the committee will hear from cities, municipal utility districts, schools and others regarding the potential need for roads and trails around the county. A meeting will be held in each precinct throughout May.
  • Those who frequent the I-35 frontage road between FM 972 and the Bell County line will notice lane changes and construction going on in the area beginning May 7. Senior Director of Infrastructure Bob Daigh said since the projects are weather-dependent, he is unsure about how long the construction will last, but there is plenty of signage to help direct drivers.

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  1. $8.1 billion (-) $5.6 billion = $2.5 billion for Planning. What the hell is wrong here? Oh! I know – it’s the “keep” the planners employed.

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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