AUSTIN, TEXAS—Today, the Austin Area Research Organization, the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Austin and the Real Estate Council of Austin announced their joint opposition to Item 45 at Thursday’s Austin City Council meeting to delay the I-35 reconstruction process for the portion of the highway that runs through Central Austin.
“Pausing action on this highway improvement project, which will take years, will result in more of what we currently have: a highly congested, unsafe barrier between East and West Austin,” Dewitt Peart, president and CEO of the Downtown Austin Alliance, said. “For years, our community has worked together on this process to reconnect Austin in a safe, sustainable and forward-looking manner.”
As part of the I-35 Capital Express Central environmental study, TxDOT conducted a Carbon Monoxide Traffic Air Quality Analysis to assess whether the proposed project would adversely affect local air quality by contributing to CO levels. Analysis results for each alternative scenario indicate that CO concentrations are not expected to exceed the national standard, even assuming the worst-case condition. Adding managed lanes to I-35 will result in 20,000 people each day shifting modes from single occupancy vehicles to buses and carpools. Updated technology and increased use of electric vehicles will also be contributing factors in improving air quality.
TxDOT has stated that if additional air quality data becomes available, TxDOT will review the analysis to determine whether additional mitigation is needed.
The I-35 Capital Express Central project will also upgrade the current, decades-old stormwater collection system to 2023 standards. The construction of a drainage tunnel along I-35 between Airport Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Street and down Cesar Chavez Street to US 183 will provide relief to the existing Waller Creek and Boggy Creek drainage systems. None of these upgrades will happen without the project moving forward.
“Delaying this project is tantamount to not building it because the result of any delay will be ongoing congestion, unreliable routes for transit and emergency service vehicles, and 1960’s water quality infrastructure,” Michelle Adams Earley, chair of the Transportation Committee at the Austin Area Research Organization, said. “We have the opportunity to improve not just mobility through Austin, but also quality of life. Inaction is not an option. It will result in negative impacts to the environment and for residents.”
Since the 1950s, the 10-mile portion of I-35 that runs through Central Austin has been one of Austin’s biggest community barriers, dividing East and West Austin. TxDOT’s proposal will lower the highway, remove the upper decks and make possible a community-driven vision for public spaces for Austin now and in the future. This is the result of TxDOT actively working in partnership with the community for much of the past decade to envision this project.
In addition to CapEx Central, TxDOT is working closely with the community on a variety of projects around Austin including Loop 360, FM 969 and Project Connect, which includes accommodating construction of Austin Light Rail across I-35 and multiple TxDOT rights of way.
For more information, visit my35capex.com.
The Austin Area Research Organization
The Austin Area Research Organization (AARO, pronounced “arrow”) is a nonpartisan network of business and civic leaders across the six-county region working together to achieve a Central Texas that is dynamic, thriving and sustainable for all. Through thoughtful, deliberative dialogue and study, our members advance regional solutions to benefit the long-term economic and social well-being of Central Texas. For more information, visit www.aaroregion.com.
The Downtown Austin Alliance
The Downtown Austin Alliance (Downtown Alliance) works with key downtown stakeholders—property owners, residents, business owners, community organizations and government officials—to advance our collective vision for the future of downtown Austin. The Downtown Alliance is engaged in dozens of projects and issues that contribute to the safety, cleanliness and appeal of downtown Austin to residents, employees and visitors. As a full-time advocate for downtown, the Downtown Alliance is actively engaged in planning decisions that impact the area. We also advance downtown’s vision through direct services supporting safety and cleanliness. For more information, please visit downtownaustin.com.
The Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce
Since its formation in 2012, the GAACC has focused on improving the business climate in Austin, conducting job fairs, industry forums, educational seminars for small business, and business networking functions. Our mission is to promote the Central Texas AAPI community and the community at large as a catalyst for local and global economic growth through programs focused on Advocacy, Connection, and Education.
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
The Austin Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit membership organization that helps people live, work and thrive in Austin. The Chamber invests in a broad range of programs that build and support Austin’s diverse business community. The Chamber is the voice of business at all levels of government. Its vision is for Austin to have the country’s most prosperous community. To learn more, visit austinchamber.com.
The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The GAHCC was established in 1973 by 25 prominent Austin Hispanic leaders. As Latinos came into political power in Austin with the election of leaders such as Richard Moya, John Trevino, Gonzalo Barrientos, and Gus Garcia, the chamber’s founding members understood the importance and need for economic development and advocacy. Their vision was to create an organization that would serve and represent the business interests of a small but growing Hispanic entrepreneurial class in Austin.
To this day, the GAHCC’s primary goal is to continue the advancement and progression of a strong and stable economic culture for Hispanic businesses. For more information visit https://www.gahcc.org/
Opportunity Austin is the economic development organization aimed at fostering job-creating investment in the five-county Central Texas region. Top priorities include boosting economic diversification to proactively strengthen the economy, deepening the talent pool through development and attraction, and keeping the Greater Austin region attractive to entrepreneurs, business leaders, and site selectors through advocacy on issues such as a comprehensive regional transportation system and regional collaboration. Since 2004, Opportunity Austin has helped bring more than 600,000 total jobs to the Austin region. Learn more about Opportunity Austin here.
The Real Estate Council of Austin
The Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) is a dynamic 501(c)6 organization representing over 1,900 commercial real estate professionals including developers, builders, financial institutions, architects, engineers and anyone with a professional interest in commercial real estate. RECA’s organizational mission is to serve as an effective resource and advocate for the commercial real estate industry and advance civic leadership in support of responsible development and a more livable, opportunity-rich Austin.