CAMPO Throws Money at I-35

$400 million in new funding will go to the “Capital Express” project

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Policy Board voted Monday to allocate $400 million in new funding to the "Capital Express" project – the latest iteration of the Texas Department of Transportation's decades-long quest to upgrade I-35 through Central Austin. The current TxDOT vision for adding capacity to the 28-mile stretch from State Highway 45 North to SH 45 Southeast involves managed lanes (either one or two in each direction). With new toll projects again out of favor among the state's top officials, these lanes (unlike those on MoPac) would be "managed" in some other fashion, such as restricting them to high-occupancy vehicles and buses.

A screen grab of TxDOT's animated I-35 rendering

Actually fitting several new lanes, managed or not, into I-35's constrained right-of-way has always called for creative engineering; TxDOT now proposes two levels of tunnels under the main lanes between Downtown and Airport Blvd., replacing the current upper deck. Through Downtown, TxDOT's animated rendering shows I-35 depressed below grade but not "capped," as has been proposed by the Reconnect Austin initiative to create new developable land and public space between the Eastside and the city center. (It was in support of Reconnect Austin that the Congress for the New Urbanism declared I-35 one of its 2019 "Freeways Without Futures.")

The total TxDOT project would cost over $8 billion; both the state and CAMPO (which has direct access to federal transportation funding) have already set aside more than $800 million to the cause. The CAMPO board, chaired by Austin Mayor Steve Adler, hopes that by allocating almost all of the region's available highway dollars to I-35, the region can impress the importance of the corridor upon state and federal funders and get the long-stalled project moving as soon as 2021.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
Resizing the CAMPO Tent
Resizing the CAMPO Tent
Proposal would expand transportation board's representation

Lee Nichols, Dec. 11, 2009

Chamber Recommends CAMPO Reorganization
Chamber Recommends CAMPO Reorganization
Fewer and better-educated members could improve efficiency of transportation planning group, report says

Kimberly Reeves, Jan. 5, 2007

Green Light for CAMPO 2035 Plan
Green Light for CAMPO 2035 Plan
Long-range plan includes SH 45 Southwest project

Katherine Gregor, May 28, 2010

Developing Stories: Driving in Two Directions
Developing Stories: Driving in Two Directions
CAMPO's trends vs. centers debate is shaping our future

Katherine Gregor, Nov. 27, 2009

More by Mike Clark-Madison
Austin at Large: Back (and Forth) to the Future
Austin at Large: Back (and Forth) to the Future
At some point Austin history will stop looping upon itself. Until next time …

March 17, 2023

Austin at Large: The Train Can’t Be Too Late
Austin at Large: The Train Can’t Be Too Late
It’s going to be sad, so sad, when Mayor Pete’s money comes if Austin’s not ready

March 10, 2023


CAMPO, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Capital Express, Texas Department of Transportation, Reconnect Austin, Steve Adler, Transportation Policy Board

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle