The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to invest $700 million to add one to two lanes in each direction on I-35 in Central Texas.

TxDOT plans to add one nontolled, managed lane in each direction on I-35 in a northern section SH 45 N. and Hwy. 290 and add two nontolled, managed lanes in each direction in a southern section between Hwy. 71/Ben White Boulevard and SH 45 SE. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and have a total cost of $700 million.

“It’s going to have a huge immense impact overall because it’s first going to provide better mobility north and south of our central section, and then it’s going to provide other routes around [downtown] during the construction of [the] central [section],” said Susan Fraser, the program manager for TxDOT’s My35 project.

Dubbed the Capital Express, these new lanes will be restricted such as for high-occupancy vehicles, transit and emergency vehicles. Fraser said TxDOT is still looking into the technology that would verify if a vehicle has more than one person.

“During the busiest peak times we find a lot of the volume is single drivers,” Fraser said. “Our hope is with the HOV lanes we will encourage carpooling [and using] transit and that will help add the capacity we need [by freeing up the main lanes].”

Funding for the Capital Express North and South projects is coming partially through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is responsible for doling out state and federal transportation dollars to six counties in Central Texas. In May, the agency’s policy board, comprising local elected officials and transportation representatives, awarded $400 million in state and federal funding to the project.

TxDOT has not yet decided on how to add two lanes in each direction to the Central Austin section between Hwy. 290 and Hwy. 71, Fraser said. The estimated cost for the central section is about $5 billion, she said.

“It is still a possibility that [the upper decks] could come down,” she said. “We are looking in that section at possibly a tunnel, so that’s where the capacity would go.”

For the north and south sections, TxDOT is working on traffic modeling, preliminary environmental work and detailed designs. As part of the public involvement process for the north and south sections, TxDOT is hosting two upcoming open house events for residents to review and comment on the proposed projects. An open house for the central section will be in spring 2020.

Open house events

Capital Express South

  • Thursday, Oct. 17

  • 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Akins High School, 10701 S. First St., Austin

Capital Express North

  • Thursday, Oct. 24

  • 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • John B. Connally High School, 13212 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin