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.

Make Your Light Rail Look Like LA’s

There are several ways in which LA’s network design is superior; in order from broad planning down to engineering details, they are: service area, overall route configuration, station spacing, grade separation, and route geometry.

Let's Go LA

Regular readers know that this blog doesn’t have a devotion to any particular transportation technology. I’m all about efficiency. The best options are the ones that move the most people and goods as fast as possible. Now you can drift off into daydreams about “slow transit” but fact is, people usually want to get where they’re going quickly and reliably. People vote with their feet and if you want their feet on your transit vehicle instead of on the gas pedal, your transit better be competitive. People don’t want slow transit any more than they want slow freeways.

So, if you’re investing money in a light rail network, you ought to make it look like ours in Los Angeles. Chances are your city doesn’t have the density of Manhattan or narrow streets of downtown Boston that make subways the only practical option. If you look at LA’s light…

View original post 4,305 more words

Project Connect: Upcoming Open Houses

Please participate in the upcoming open houses for Project Connect, the vision for Central Texas’ high-capacity transit system. Linking activity centers within the fastest growing region in the country, Project Connect (a partnership between Capital Metro and the city of Austin) aims to connect people, places and opportunities in an easy, efficient way.

1) Thursday, September 26, 2013 – 5:00pm to 8:00pm  Public Open House  Givens Recreation Center  3811 E. 12th St.

2) Friday, September 27, 2013 – 12:00pm to 1:00pm  Online Open House  Webinar (projectconnect.com)  Register at http://projectconnect.com

3) Wednesday, October 2, 2013 – 5:00pm to 8:00pm  Public Open House  Norris Conference Center  2525 W Anderson Lane (Red Oak Ballroom)

Project Connect leaders hope to have a decision on which areas of the central corridor urban rail will travel through by the end of the year and then next year decide on the routes.

A bond election would have to fund urban rail.

If all goes as planned urban rail would become a reality in 2020.

Austin Post: I-35 Cut and Cap is Good for Austin

“The Texas Department of Transportation has also taken note of the problems with 35, noting that the design of this highway causes decreased speeds and increased congestion. Something has to be done, and the two plans TxDOT proposes include one conventional solution (simply updating the current infrastructure) and one new solution (creating a depression for traffic lanes from 8th Street to Holly Street).

“Doing a conventional update on the highway would just be more of the same. Depressing the lanes is a good start, but then you have wasted space at street level. The Reconnect Austin plan proposes to actually bury those depressed lanes, creating more “people space” where car space used to be. When this was done in Boston, the “capped” area became public park space. It’s a beautiful promenade of sorts that runs through the middle of the city. People sit on the benches or get some exercise during their lunch breaks.

“In addition to the additional green space, the cut and cap option would also provide more developable land that’s now consumed by on and off ramps. Reconnect Austin says 30 acres of frontage road could be turned into prime real estate for businesses, restaurants and homes. As more people see what can be created when we replace concrete structures with green space and people-focused space, maybe more people will be encouraged to get out of their cars and exist in that space.”

Click here to read the full article: Stephanie Myers, “I-35 Cut and Cap is Good for Austin,” Austin Post, September 5, 2013