The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will be making improvements to 8 miles of Interstate 35 (I-35) from US 290 East to SH 71 /Ben White Blvd through central Austin in a planned project called I-35 Express Central. According to TxDOT, the project will require 41.7 acres of new right-of-way (ROW) and will result in 107 total displacements, including 69 businesses and 26 residences. Impacted property owners have a constitutional right to be paid just compensation if their land is taken.
TxDOT considered serval build alternatives for the project and has selected Modified Alternative 3 as its preferred alternative. The project’s improvements in Modified Alternative 3 include adding two non-tolled high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) managed lanes in each direction, lowering sections of the managed and main lanes through downtown Austin, and removal of the existing upper decks between Airport Blvd. and MLK Jr. Blvd. Additional improvements include, adding a boulevard-style frontage road segment through downtown Austin, widened east-west cross-street bridges, reconstructing the bridge across Lady Bird Lake, a new pedestrian/bicycle only bridge, and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian paths.
TxDOT is currently undergoing its environmental review process and expects to release its final environmental report in late summer 2023. Inspections of effected properties by TxDOT’s appraisers have begun. TxDOT currently plans for appraisals and initial offer letters to be sent to landowners in early fall 2023. TxDOT is estimating the first phase of construction will being in spring 2024. The project has an 8-year construction timeline and is not expected to be completed until 2032.