I-35 Work Session Discussion

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Paige Ellis
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:37 pm

I-35 Work Session Discussion

Post by Paige Ellis »

Colleagues,

For tomorrow’s work session, we are posted for briefings on the I-35 Capital Express Project from both TxDOT and our City staff. Like all of you, I heard the calls from our community to hold a special called Mobility Committee meeting to discuss the I-35 project. I thank those of you who expressed your support for such a discussion to me or my office. Given the broad interest on the dais in the I-35 project, and the impacts to council districts that may not represented on the Mobility Committee, I requested this discussion take place at our regular work session, so that all of my colleagues can participate.

I also heard from several of you – and we have all heard from the community – about aspects of the I-35 project and its impacts that extend beyond mobility. I-35’s history of segregating the community, impacts on climate change, the displacement of homes and local businesses, future potential to physically reconnect the community, and the best use of this valuable land are among the issues that must be discussed in a holistic conversation about the future of I-35. Many of you have shared that, as council members, you feel a responsibility to evaluate TxDOT’s I-35 proposal against our array of City goals and community values: mobility and mode-shift and safety, certainly, but also equity and racial justice, climate action and environmental stewardship, affordability, and more. It is my hope and intention that we use tomorrow’s work session to have a focused conversation with our City staff and TxDOT about all these aspects of the I-35 project.

If there are particular topics or concerns you would like to discuss tomorrow, I invite you to share those here to help staff prepare their thoughts.

Thanks, and I look forward to the briefings and our conversation tomorrow!
Paige
Paige Ellis
Council Member, District 8
Natasha Harper-Madison
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:52 pm

Re: I-35 Work Session Discussion

Post by Natasha Harper-Madison »

Thank you, Council Member Ellis, for skillfully capturing the many concerns swirling around this project.
Like Project Connect, the Capital Express Central vision is a multi-billion-dollar investment that we will leave to our kids and grandkids. We get one shot at getting it right, which is why it is so crucial to have as much of the community as possible engaged in this current process. I appreciate TxDOT’s recent decision to extend the current public comment period to Sept. 24.
After viewing the latest proposals, I still have great concerns about how this project will affect our ability to meet the community goals we have embraced when it comes to mobility, safety, climate change, and building a more compacted and connected city. I also want to have more clarity about how a wider freeway through the heart of Austin will help or harm the historic transit investments we’re making under Project Connect, and to what degree those investments have informed TxDOT’s development of the I-35 alternatives. I’m also very interested in learning more about the thinking behind the proposal to displace scores of businesses and residences. On its face, the idea of demolishing space for people to build more space for cars seems like a relic of failed 20th century policies that addressed congestion with bigger roads that just induced more congestion.
As I said, this is a historic moment in Austin, and what we as a community do now will be weighed by future generations. I hope we can come together to create a collaborative vision that our kids and grandkids will be proud of.

NHM
Natasha Harper-Madison
Council Member District 1
Ann Kitchen
Posts: 245
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: I-35 Work Session Discussion

Post by Ann Kitchen »

Colleagues

I share the comments of CM Ellis and Harper Madison and appreciate the opportunity for the briefing and discussion tomorrow.

It is important that we be forward thinking with this level of investment in transportation - which to me means alignment with our transformational efforts around Project Connect and an appreciation for multi-modal transportation. Major infrastructure such as IH 35 should not create barriers between communities - be that neighborhoods or walkable, bikeable ways to get across town.

We have the opportunity to address historical barriers that IH 35 has created - while not creating new barriers further south. And understanding that highway design should take into account how people walk and bike - under freeways. These should be hospitable, safe places - and not just for cars.

Thank you to CM Ellis and Harper Madison for articulating the policy considerations and context in which I believe it is important to evaluate such a huge investment in the future.

Best
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5
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