Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Council Member Vela Calls on Texas Department of Transportation to help Implement Significant Changes to I-35

This morning, Austin City Council Member Jose “Chito” Vela called on the Texas Department of Transportation to make significant changes to the current I-35 expansion plan. “TxDOT has been a valuable partner to Austin and other Texas cities in previous highway modifications, including such innovative projects as burying part of the Woodall Rodgers Highway and creating an urban park in Dallas,” he stated. “I hope the department will work with us to implement similar improvements in Austin.”
Council Member Vela called for three major changes to I-35 in Austin. He believes any project dealing with the Austin highway must accomplish the following:

  1. Physically connect East and West Austin by adding more crossings across I-35;
  2. Create opportunities and amenities for residents by burying as much of I-35 as possible;
  3. Reroute 18-wheelers from I-35 to minimize fatalities and congestion.

“In North Central Austin, we should completely lower and cover I-35 from at least Lady Bird Lake to US Hwy 290 East and create room for parks, much-needed housing, and local businesses. Lowering and covering I-35 would also block noise, light, and environmental pollution for the communities along the highway,” said Vela. “This is not just a transportation and mobility issue. This is a public health issue.”
Council Member Vela also expressed his gratitude to Reconnect Austin, Rethink 35 and the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition and the City of Austin transportation staff for their tireless support during the research and development stage of these requests. Vela pointed out,  “the distance between the crossings at 51st St and Us Hwy 290 East in District 4 is almost a mile. In the last few years, five Austinites have lost their lives at this location by attempting to make this crossing.”
Council Member Vela summarized his argument in a detailed message board post on the Austin City Council forum. He will present the issue to City Council as soon as possible.

City of Austin Statement on Labor Negotiations with Police Union

The City's Labor Relations Office has been negotiating with the Austin Police Association (APA) for almost nine months over a new labor ...