AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an effort to improve traffic and mobility on the largest artery through Austin, the Texas Department of Transportation is committing $158.6 million in funds to develop new projects along Interstate 35.
TxDOT’s Austin District will use the money to improve I-35 at 51st Street, Oltorf Street and from Rundberg Lane to US 290. The total cost for all the projects is $383.7 million, but with the new funds and TxDOT already committing $58.7 million to the projects, there’s a remaining $170 million that needs to be funded. “We plan to use many different funding options, including Prop 7, Prop 1, district funding, etc., to move these four project forward to construction much sooner than they otherwise might have gone without this congestion relief money,” says Kelli Reyna a spokesperson for TxDOT.
“Relieving traffic congestion is essential for our economy and our quality of life,” said Senator Kirk Watson in a press release. “I’m pleased this initiative has put the emphasis on I-35, which is the most pressing congestion problem for Central Texas as well as the state. We’ve worked hard and successfully to develop a plan for reducing congestion on I-35 and this investment is key to moving that plan forward.”
The money being used comes from $1.3 billion made available through ending diversions of highway money to other agencies. In 2014, 15 cents per gallon of gas goes to the State Highway Fund, money intended for road construction projects. However, each year, lawmakers use millions of dollars to pay for other departments, such as the Department of Public Safety gets the most.
According to TxDOT, on average, Texas drivers in five of the state’s largest metropolitan areas each are losing about 52 hours and $1,200 annually due to traffic congestion.