Public Notice: Do You Avoid Driving I-35?
The chamber of commerce wants more of the same
By Nick Barbaro, Fri., Feb. 3, 2023
Perhaps you missed the full-page ad that was on page 3 of the Austin American-Statesman this past Monday. As a public service, it's reproduced below. If the QR code still works at this reduced size, it'll take you to austinchamber.com/i35, where there's a one-click email that autofills with the subject line "Support I-35 Capital Express Central" (blind copying firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dear Chairman Bugg and Commissioners:
Thank you for recognizing that I-35 through Austin is one of the most congested roadway segments in the State of Texas. As this seriously outdated roadway is often called the Main Street of Texas, all Texans should call for bold and decisive action to transform this critical stretch of infrastructure into a roadway that will accommodate the rapid and immense growth we are experiencing in our great State.
Accordingly, I am writing today to express my complete support for the I-35 Capital Express Central design as proposed by TxDOT.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
The ad and form letter are brought to you by Opportunity Austin, the Austin Chamber of Commerce's "five-year regional economic development initiative aimed at fostering job-creating investment across the Austin region," and to repeat, it pledges "complete support for the I-35 Capital Express Central design as proposed by TxDOT" – that is, without the more ambitious reinvention of the corridor that's envisioned by the Reconnect Austin or Rethink I-35 coalitions, or even the more modest improvements that are backed by the chamber's longtime stalwart fellow travelers, the Downtown Austin Alliance and the Urban Land Institute. Good to know where the chamber stands.
And yes, there's still a very narrow window for those who might want to see a different way "to address congestion, safety, and environmental deficiencies along this 8-mile stretch of road." That window largely depends on the federal highway department deciding that the TxDOT plan is not the best way forward; thus the need for public lobbying such as this, which seems just a tad desperate when seen in that light.
I don't have a form letter for you to send; instead I'll refer you back to Mike Clark-Madison's feature last week, "Endless Highway," for more on the topic.
To that end, the I-35 Town Hall that was scheduled for last night, Thursday, Feb. 2, with Council Members Chito Vela, Zo Qadri, José Velásquez, Vanessa Fuentes, and Ryan Alter hosting, was postponed due to the weather; there's no reschedule date at press time.
The city's Creative Space Assistance Program will distribute $1.5 million in grants to creative organizations or artists facing displacement or higher rent. They're accepting applications through the end of February; see details at austintexas.gov/creative-space-assistance-program.
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