Item 44

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Colleen Pate
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2023 1:22 pm

Item 44

Post by Colleen Pate »

In advance of tomorrow’s work session discussion on Item #44, I wanted to share TxDOT’s response to the proposed resolution and highlight one key point:

“The I-35 Capital Express Central project preferred alternative allows for the opportunity to build structural support for deck plazas. However, the $4.5 billion of TxDOT allocated construction funding does not include the additional structural support to carry the load for these local enhancements of a deck plaza or the fire life safety requirements for a vehicular tunnel. The cost for City of Austin structural support and fire life safety controls is estimated at $325M. The source of funding would need to be identified by fall 2024 to be included in TxDOT’s construction documents.”

That amount is in addition to the cost of building the caps and would bring the city’s obligation to $800 million. I question the feasibility of demanding TxDOT design the project as dictated by the resolution given that we have yet to identify a funding source for the caps alone and likely won’t be able to meet the fall 2024 deadline.

I also have concerns about the State Highway 130 provision and the inclusion of changes to the North and South segments, both of which are either under contract or being constructed.

You all know that I’ve been deeply involved with this project for many years, and the vision has changed considerably because of the community engagement process that we started in 2011. A decade ago, TxDOT proposed adding lanes to the upper highway deck through downtown. Now, the proposed new upper decks are gone from the plan, and TxDOT has agreed to lower the highway — diminishing that physical obstacle between east and west. East/west cross streets have been widened for better bike and pedestrian access — creating better connections for East Austin neighborhoods. The proposed boulevard section through downtown offers an amazing opportunity to build on these connections. And the new highway lanes would be managed HOV lanes, creating new transit options and helping Austinites get out of their cars.

Is that as good as it gets? Of course not. At every step in this process, I have challenged TxDOT to listen to the community and make changes that meet Austin’s needs. Many of those changes and improvements have been made. TxDOT has been a good partner and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to strengthen our relationship. I feel particularly strong about this since we will want the state and TxDOT to be a willing partner as we move forward with Project Connect, which needs TxDOT’s involvement in various right of way issues. ... 175927.pdf


On behalf of Mayor Watson
Chief of Staff, Mayor Watson's Office