So, folks, get this - our beloved I-35 in Central Texas, which already has a "stellar" reputation for its smooth-flowing traffic (ahem), is getting itself a shiny makeover. Yep, the federal green light’s been flashed for the I-35 expansion through Austin. For those of you taking bets on when the traffic will clear up, put your money on, oh, 2032. Good odds.
I mean, after throwing a casual $4.5 billion at it, our dear Texas Department of Transportation (or TxDOT for those in the know) wants to make I-35 wider than my uncle Joe's belt after Thanksgiving dinner. This monumental endeavor spans from U.S. 290 East to Ben White Boulevard.
But wait, there’s more! The Capital Express Central project (gotta love the fancy names) will not only give us multiple lanes going north and south on I-35 but also non-tolled HOV lanes. Talk about living in the future!
Tucker Ferguson, the Austin District Engineer for TxDOT (and probably a guy who never has to sit in I-35 traffic) was quoted saying, "This is a major milestone for us." Major indeed, Tucker, major indeed. But here's hoping that roadmap he mentioned doesn't lead to more detours.
Now, of course, not everyone's thrilled. The folks over at Rethink35, an advocacy group, aren’t too keen on this plan. They've got a point too, especially considering the Texas heat. With phrases like "heat-trapping asphalt chasm" being thrown around, I'm starting to think this project might just be the state's new sauna plan.
And then there's Adam Greenfield from Rethink35 who seems convinced that TxDOT has some noise-cancelling headphones on because they haven’t quite caught the public's opinion about the expansion. Greenfield claims they're disregarding little things like, you know, air and water pollution, and the wee issue of greenhouse gases. Minor details, right?
Megan Kimble, an author who’s written about highways (what bedtime reading!), concurred on the greenhouse gas part. I'm just here thinking if we all pool in, maybe we could gift TxDOT a plant or two.
All this hustle is apparently a part of a grander scheme to expand I-35 in the San Antonio-Austin mega-metro. (Did someone say "more traffic"?)
Well, whether you’re for or against it, looks like we're in for an expansive (pun intended) ride. Buckle up, Texas!