The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a number of amendments to its Transportation Improvement Program during its May 8 transportation policy board meeting.

CAMPO coordinates regional transportation planning and funding for Travis, Williamson and Hays counties. Its 2023-26 TIP spans four years and is looking to implement projects from the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan such as the I-35 expansion, 183A Toll expansion and improvements to Capital Metro lines.

As part of CAMPO’s routine TIP and RTP updates, amendment requests are submitted by project sponsors to add, remove or make significant changes to the projects listed in order to ensure information remains up-to-date. The process includes a public hearing, 30 days of public comment and approval by the board.

Some of the 18 requested amendments discussed during the meeting that were approved included:
  • Modifying project descriptions for clarity on the scope of work;
  • Modifying funding to adjust to project costs and the associated funding needed, including $300 million to reflect the breakout of earlier phases of I-35 projects into individual projects; and
  • Adding individually listed roadway projects (either due to being let out for construction at an earlier phase from the main project or being previously approved but deferred), including $104 million for construction of the Capital Express Central Drainage Tunnel along Cesar Chavez and an eastern tunnel along I-35.
In March and April, CAMPO accepted virtual and in-person public comments on the proposed TIP projects as part of its Public Participation Plan, as previously reported by Community Impact. According to agenda documents, 475 comments were submitted during this time with a vast majority opposing the I-35 expansion project and others requesting improvements to Anderson Mill Road/RM 620, FM 1826, RM 1431 and Brodie Lane.

Six of the amendments approved during the meeting included various I-35 construction projects, including adding nontolled and bypass lanes, drainage, intersection reconstruction and more.

Members with grassroots organizations Reconnect Austin and Rethink35 spoke during the public comment portion of the item May 8, voicing their opposition to the I-35 expansion project and citing environmental concerns, among others.

“We have the international example right here in Texas of how highway expansions never work with the Katy Freeway, which was expanded to 24, 25 lanes,” said Adam Greenfield with Rethink35. “Three years later, peak hour evening congestion times had gone up 55%. ... Not only does congestion get worse, air quality, water quality, crashes all get worse. ... This is very much a project that is taking money away from suburban and rural projects and putting it into an urban project that people do not want.”

However, CAMPO Chair Cynthia Long noted that TxDOT is ultimately the project sponsor and that any further public hearings would be on their end.

"The only reason we [CAMPO] would have any of that would be if there was another change that they needed to put in the TIP," Long said.

CAMPO’s transportation policy board will next meet at 2 p.m. June 12 at the Junior League of Austin.