The first major chunk of funding for Austin’s plan to add caps and stitches over a revamped I-35 came through March 11, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, announced.

Austin was named the lone finalist for the federal $105.2 million Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant, which was designed to help cities retrofit highways that serve as barriers to community and connectivity in their current form.

The details

The grant funding will be used to build a 5.3-acre cap and its supportive infrastructure from East Cesar Chavez and Fourth streets. The deck is the only planned cap or stitch that won’t require pedestrians to cross a frontage road to cross the highway.

Terms to know
  • Caps are large decks built over a lowered highway that can feature greenery or buildings on top.
  • Stitches are widened bridges that accommodate cars, bikes and pedestrians.
Zooming out

The cap is one of several east-to-west connections the city plans to build along I-35 in tandem with the Texas Department of Transportation’s $4.5 billion plan to widen the corridor, which will kick off mid-2024.

The city’s vision is to add amenities, such as parks or coffee shops, on top of the caps, similar to the 5.2-acre Klyde Warren Park in Dallas that covers part of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown.

What they’re saying

“Today’s investment represents a very hopeful development regarding a troubling highway expansion. It offers important opportunities for our community,” Doggett said in a news release. “These are the first three blocks of what could eventually be additional benefits through additional capping along I-35 with help from UT, the city and other interested parties.”

What’s next

Austin is required to match $45 million to fund additional amenities on top of the deck, including shade trees, restrooms and pavilions.

The city also needs to gather an additional $700 million in funding for the remaining planned caps and stitches by December, as TxDOT is not backing the cap and stitch project.

On March 31, Austin City Council will vote to submit an application for an additional $193 million in funding from the State Infrastructure Bank. If awarded, it will fund $19 million of the cap and stitch design cost and $174 million for roadway elements.