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April 25, 2013

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April 25, 2013

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What about MAX transit?

I moved from Austin from Portland, OR and I am shocked that such an amazing city like Austin doesn't have a large MAX transit line (train). There is a little one that goes through the downtown area, but Portland has them going out to all the suburbs bringing people in and out of the downtown area. Spend the millions of dollars on clean transportation instead of trying to figure out how to cram more traffic in a small area. Especially since they predict population is going to rise even more.

Kimberly more than 1 year ago

BatCave in Austin

See the tunnel in Mobile, Austin can call it the BatCave

Mitch Pacoy more than 1 year ago

Make it parkland

I like the cut & cap idea, but not to just make more city. We do get more property tax, but also get more city for which to provide services. In other words, it just makes Austin larger. There are usually no economies of scale in government. Larger more populated cities usually cost more taxes per person than less populated areas. Make it a park! Apparently Dallas did that to great success. I have a feeling we, the taxpayers, will end up paying for this anyway. If so, give me a park. Connect it to the Town Lake Hike and Bike area. Make it worth my money and I'll pay for it. If it is just more city, tell me where I can go to oppose this!

Jack W. Simpson more than 1 year ago

Absurd!!!

When has ANY project like this come w/in cost estimates? Typically 2x-3x more. With claimed tax benefits of $900 million, we'll be at a net loss after 25 years. And, what will this really buy us? Less congestion? No. WE will be paying for the development of the most expensive acres in Austin for someone else to use. All so Sinclair Black can have his legacy? Does someone already have dibs? "Special" friends? Why not take that same $1Billion+ dollars and buy parks for people at the outskirts of Austin (so Zilker can get a break and so many people won't hoard down there that they have to park ON the Park), and move I-35 to 130 and buy water for our future and.... (yeah, the dough will go aLOT further than this ridiculous scheme will take it). Let's be smart w/ our money for a change

Jack more than 1 year ago

I-35 "tunnel" and the problem with semi-trucks

Semi-trucks passing through Austin should be diverted around the city via Texas 135. We might have to give them free passage (or pay their toll) but if they go through the urban core they cause too much congestion and make projects like Cut & Cap unrealistic.

Austin has been a divided city too long and it's time to reunite the east and west sides.

Colin more than 1 year ago

Reconnect Austin: Cut and Cap

This idea has been implemented in a number of major metro areas with great success. Expensive? You bet, but with new tolled lanes, $$$ dedicated to IH35 improvements after the MoPac bonds are paid off, and the sale or lease of 30 acres of urban rea estate, the equation starts to make economic sense. To expect a long term solution to be cheap, quick, or convenient just isn't realistic. TxDoT is very good about dealing with the traffic challenges. I think the idea is stellar!

Allen Green more than 1 year ago

Not Yet A Viable Concept

Sinclair Black has been promoting some variation of this "I-35 Underground" concept since at least the mid-1970s, and while there may be positive urban design aspects it presents some fundamental engineering flaws that would exacerbate rather than relieve the longstanding operational and safety traffic issues along that segment of the corridor.

By focusing solely on depressing the main lanes below grade in the stretch south of 15th Street, the concept ignores negative operational effects from a longer vertical profile requirement to meet and match the existing highway elevation and gradient between 15th and Manor Road (where the upper/lower deck split occurs). An increase in the length of gradient will significantly exacerbate the existing "boundary shock" phenomenon which occurs as heavily loaded 18-wheeler vehicles rapidly lose speed in the northbound upgrade direction (and under congested conditions once slowed to a crawl the forward speed lost is not quickly regained, particularly when moving toward the upper deck); in the southbound downgrade direction that same increase in gradient length may induce vehicle speeds to increase above safe stopping distance when approaching a tunnel into which the drivers cannot see whether the traffic flow condition is free-flow or congested, but not yet experiencing sufficient spillback to extend beyond the portal.

The other primary issue of technical feasibility involves emergency access and emergency equipment response capability for the inevitable incidents which would occur within the tunnel, particularly if any major accident results in any fuel spill and fire, something which should be considered as inevitable rather than hypothetical, given the daily traffic volumes and presence of substantial commercial vehicle movement which can involve flammable or other types of hazardous cargo.

Finally, there is a major political or institutional issue which involves the existing Capitol View Ordinance codified into State Law -- that statutory language specifically designates a geometric corridor defined by the existing elevation of I-35 well above ground level within the segment in question. Any change from the existing parameters will directly affect the statutory allowances and protections defined geometrically, and to place I-35 completely underground would probably require repeal of at least some portions of that statute by the Legislature. With any changes in the protections or allowances which are granted to individual parcels within that section of downtown Austin, there could be radical alterations to a parcel's market value and potential development character, so there could be some big money winners or losers from any change. As written, the Capitol View Ordinance intent was to regulate and maintain views of the Capitol building; a legal determination whether it also requires those views protected to be maintained and so preclude any change to the highway elevation is required.

Jim Vance more than 1 year ago

Cap IH 35

Horse droppings. 550 million is a mere fraction of the real costs. It costs over a million dollars per mile per lane for a highway and that is on the low end.
Imagine the cost of all the demolition, the tunnel, and then add in the cost of the lanes, and on and on.
Toll lanes? More toll lanes, what a joke. The only toll roads claimed to be a profit is 183 A and that is one out of half a dozen. I would imagine people would avoid the toll lanes on the interstate like they do most everywhere else already.
I wager the public as usual will not get a vote on this matter. Maybe a few dog and poney shows to be heard but in the end it will be done deal.
Maybe if this passes somehow it will turn out to be like the Big Dig in Boston. Low estimate quick build tunnel for traffic congestion turned into a trillion dollar and almost 20 year boondoggle.

Austinite more than 1 year ago

Dream on!

Two downside considerations -- First, we already know that Austin residents do not like the idea of toll roads. They think of them as "highway robbery." Second, even if we CAN build this for the price shown, which is HIGHLY UNLIKELY, we will still be stuck with really crappy east-west routes that go all the way across town.

Bernie Siben, CPSM more than 1 year ago

Maybe

Might be a good thing. Certainly there are far more productive uses of surface than a highway. Converting highway to mixed use development and parks could transform the central cityscape.

But let's not fool ourselves about cost. This is a huge engineering effort and nobody should buy the $550 million price tag. It will cost more.

Tim Starry more than 1 year ago

Fantastic idea

A brilliant idea that will scare away the decision-makers because of it's up-front cost. There aren't many projects that actually have the potential to improve the fabric of an entire city and the quality of life of those who live there. This is one. I hope TXDOT reaches out to Mr. Black, and I hope his ideas encourage true innovation from all corners.

Billiam more than 1 year ago

550 Million? Come on.

It's a fine idea except there is no way it would cost only 550 million dollars. It would cost several billion dollars, not 550 million. It is irresponsible of them to throw out this 550 million figure when that isn't close to being correct.

And I don't see how you can construct a tunnel without closing down the highway above it. WHERE ARE ALL THE CARS GOING TO GO DURING CONSTRUCTION?

Dave Wasser more than 1 year ago

Placemaking

One of the historically persistent social wounds in Austin is the barrier between East and West. This particular barrier elevates cars on a pedestal, so that they alone have the best views. "Cut and cap" is an important step toward healing the divide and allowing our public space to be for more than cars alone. It allows more flexibility in scaling our East/west gateways to a low-speed experience that can be savored.

Philip Southwick, AIA more than 1 year ago

Awesome

Completely for this. Have seen it in Boston and Phoenix. Makes life much easier.

RR more than 1 year ago

Visiting Reconnect Austin

If any of y'all would like to visit our website in order to learn more about this exciting project, please visit us at http://reconnectaustin.wordpress.com/
Thanks!

more than 1 year ago

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