Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do you hafta change the Nafta (highway)? : Changes in the plans for I-35

The proposed IH-35 would be the road in red

It looks like the times they are indeed a changing. A recent study addressing the congested traffic on IH 35 north of San Antonio has some surprising suggestions. The following is part of an article which appeared on Austin's American Statement website Friday evening.

A state-commissioned study of Interstate 35 released late this week includes a number of eye-popping, expensive and politically problematic suggestions for relieving traffic on the clogged main vein of Texas transportation.

The most startling: Remove the interstate designation from I-35 between Georgetown and Buda and instead slap that label on the eastern loop formed by the tollway twins Texas 130 and Texas 45 Southeast . Those two roads, which run from north of Georgetown to south of Austin, would have their tolls removed.
Then, posits the 122-page draft report, one of the existing lanes on each side of the "old" I-35 through Central Texas would become a "managed" lane with tolls that would fluctuate in cost depending on the traffic load.

I-35 through that 44-mile section generally has three lanes per side now, although there are sections in Central Austin that have four going north and four going south. The toll revenue from what is now I-35 could be used to replace at least some of the revenue from the still lightly used Texas 130 and Texas 45 Southeast, providing a portion of the debt service on the more than $2 billion in bonds used to build the Texas 130, Texas 45 North and Loop 1 tollways. In addition, the study theorizes that much of the truck traffic clogging Central Austin on I-35 would move to the eastern loop.

That loop is about 12 miles longer than the straighter route that I-35 now cuts through Central Texas. And some of those trucks now on I-35 have loads to drop off or pick up in Austin and thus might be unlikely to take the loop.


  1. This will be interesting to watch. Right now Sen. Hutchison is proposing a law that will not allow existing interstate highways to be tolled.

    If Texas tries to force I-35 traffic to the tolled Texas 130 it will fail under current laws. Trucks involved in inter-state commerce cannot be forced to a toll road from an existing interstate highway. This is to prevent any local community or state from adding excessive fees to goods in transit.

    Austin needs to address it's own traffic issues by creating more north/south routes which would take some local traffic off I-35.

  2. Thanks for the comment Tom. I was under the impression if the "new" I-35 (130) would have their toll booths removed since it will now be desginated as public (New IH-35). I agree, it will be interesting to see.