A Vision for a Reconnected Austin

Imagine turning Austin’s greatest barrier—I-35—into Austin’s greatest connector. Great Streets connecting across the freeway, on bridges so wide you hardly notice the traffic underneath. Frontage roads that function as city streets, comfortable for bicyclists and pedestrians. A reconstituted grid that breaks through downtown’s ring of congestion, providing transit facilities and options for all needs.

We present: Great Streets. Great Bridges. Great Connections.

reconnect_poster_web

(Click to enlarge) Phase 1: Great connections and humane streets for all users.

When the main lanes are depressed, structures will be put in place to support a future cap over the freeway. As a City initiative, Phase 2 will entail a full cap, with even better connections and amenities.

Advertisements

TxDOT Responds to Neighborhood Concerns, Requests Feedback

Two crucial press releases came out of the TxDOT offices at the end of last week. Both address East/West connectivity in the I-35 corridor, and show positive movement towards solving neighborhood issues.

“To that end, TxDOT is asking for feedback from stakeholders living in neighborhoods adjacent to the roadway. … Information gathered from the survey will be used by the project team to better understand east/west connectivity issues and other special concerns of the neighborhoods.”

This I-35 survey is available online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Mobility35NeighborhoodSurvey

The second major announcement was a direct result of neighborhood feedback on TxDOT’s Implementation Plan over the past few months:

“In response to stakeholder concerns regarding the initial proposals, TxDOT, in partnership with the city of Austin, has worked to develop alternative concepts that address the neighborhoods’ needs for east/west connectivity while also satisfying mobility needs within the corridor. As a result, TxDOT is pleased to announce Woodland Avenue and St. Johns Avenue are to remain open to vehicle traffic and closure is no longer under consideration.

“The refined concepts [for Woodland and St. John’s] can be found at www.mobility35.org/solutions. The revised concepts will be reflected in the planned 2014 update to the Mobility 35 Plan.”

 

StJohns_revised 3.28.14

TxDOT’s New Proposal for St. John’s Avenue

 

TxDOT's New Proposal for Woodland Ave

TxDOT’s New Proposal for Woodland Ave

Freeways without Futures Survey

Please support our I-35 effort when filling out this Freeways without Futures CNU survey – and share with your friends so they can too!
Here’s how we filled it out:
1. What is the name of the highway? Please list any official and non-official names.
  • Interstate 35
2. What city/state does the highway travel through?
  • Austin, TX
3. If you know the beginning address, intersection or geographic coordinate, please enter it below:
4. If you know the ending address, intersection or geographic coordinate, please enter it below:
5. Describe the highway and why you recommend its removal. Please include any information about maintenance, surrounding land uses, and traffic conditions. If you have images or can provide more detailed information, please email Alex McKeag at amckeag@cnu.org with “Highways” in the subject heading.
  • Since it replaced Austin’s historic East Avenue, I-35 has been an economic, social, cultural, and racial barrier. Now, the highway’s bridges through the urban core of Austin are over 50 years old, necessitating reconstruction. This is the most congested highway section in Texas, carrying 200,000 cars a day through America’s Fastest Growing City (according to the Forbes measure of population and economy).
    As a NAFTA corridor, I-35 cannot simply be removed. However, one must recognize its immense impact on downtown, and the unique urgency of this moment, in which TxDOT is moving forward on improvements all along the Central Texas I-35 corridor.
    A proposal has come forward to lower the main lanes of this one mile stretch of I-35, cover that mile with a continuous cap, and place a city boulevard on top. The at-grade boulevard would be reconnected to the surface cross streets and the land where the frontage roads now sit would be converted to developable land…This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remove Austin’s historic blight and reconnect the city.
6. Are there any proposals or initiatives to remove this highway? Please list any groups or community leaders or groups who are currently involved.
  • Reconnect Austin (www.reconnectaustin.com) is a volunteer effort to catalyze a community conversation regarding the future of I-35.

Your Path to Austin: Bicycle Master Plan Update

There’s an important initiative underway in Austin this week. The effort is “Your Path to Austin”, which is an update of the City’s Bicycle Master Plan and the creation of a new Urban Trails Plan. These plans will help us achieve a connected and protected active transportation network and increase opportunities for people to safely bike around town, regardless of age or biking ability. Here’s the details of events where you can learn more and give your input:

Cities for Cycling Roadshow and Austin Bike and Urban Trails Plan Open House

Tuesday, November 12 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Presentation at 6 p.m.. Free. Light refreshments served)

St. David’s Episcopal Church, 301 E. 8th St., Austin

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from leading experts from around the country as they share innovations and ideas for creating an active transportation network in their cities. You’ll also learn about Austin’s Bike and Urban Trail Plan and have the opportunity to give input to help shape our city’s plan. Click here to view the event flier.

The City is also hosting presentations and interactive open house events both north and south during the week. Here are the event details (content of the presentation will be the same at these events):

Austin Bike and Urban Trails Plan Presentation and Open House Events

Wednesday, November 13 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Presentation at 7 p.m.)

Lanier High School Cafeteria, 1201 Payton Gin Road, Austin

Thursday, November 14 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Presentation at 7 p.m.)

First Evangelical Free Church of Austin, Community Hall, 4220 Monterey Oaks Blvd., Austin

If you can’t attend an open house, you can also visit the project’s website to learn more and to complete a survey to make sure Your Path to Austin reflects your views!

Please do send this information on to others you think would be interested!

How Tearing Up Highways Could Make Better Cities

We here at Reconnect Austin couldn’t relay this sentiment any better than the Observation Deck‘s Adam Rogers does:

“Tear it all down!

“Well, OK, not all of it. Let’s start with the freeways. They look permanent, sure, but most highways, especially the ones cutting through city centers, aren’t that old — only a few decades. And in some towns, they do more harm than good. They don’t decrease traffic, they cut sterile swaths through once-vibrant neighborhoods (or cut parts of the city off from what could be useful public spaces). So how about we all make like San Francisco, or Boston, or Seoul, and tear down the freeways we don’t need.

“This week on Observation Deck I’m thinking about what could happen if we tear up some of those ribbons of roads and start over again. We might end up with better cities”…To view the movie, please click here.