TxDOT: I-35 congestion to jump to 9 hours a day by 2040

Interstate 35 at the upper, lower deck split (KXAN Photo/Amanda Dugan)
Interstate 35 at the upper, lower deck split (KXAN Photo/Amanda Dugan)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Interstate 35 from U.S. 183 to State Highway 71 is congested six hours a day, that number will jump to nine hours a day by 2040.

Currently, the number of vehicles on I-35 exceed 200,000 vehicles. About 86 percent of those vehicles have an origin or destination in Williamson, Travis or Hays counties.

TxDOT is making progress on its plans to improve I-35 in the Austin area as part of the Mobility35 Program.

The $4.3 to $4.6 billion program is transforming I-35 into a smart and efficient highway. This program includes multiple individual improvement projects along I-35 in Williamson, Travis and Hays counties and will improve mobility and connectivity along and across I-35 for all modes of transportation including cars, trucks, transit, emergency vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles, as funding is identified.

Nearly $160 million from the Congestion Relief Fund will fund helping traffic relief by reconstructing certain parts of I-35. Such as re-designing the bridge and ramps near I-35 and Oltorf Street and adding a roundabout at southbound frontage road of I-35 and 51st Street.

Upgrades to the Traffic Management system are also in the works. TXDOT plans on installing 92 traffic cameras along I-35, bringing the total number of available cameras on I-35 to 161. A total of 44 dynamic message signs will also be added. These systems will incorporate the latest technologies to provide drivers with information to make smart travel decisions and stay safe on the road.

About $50 million will be invested in expanding the Highway Emergency Response Operator, or HERO Program, which will then be able to clear minor crashes and cover more roads in general.

TxDOT is also gearing up to host the first public meetings for the environmental studies for three projects in Travis County, the North 16, Central 7, and South 10 projects, this summer (North 16-mile: RM 1431 to US 183, Central 7-mile: US 183 to Riverside Drive, South 10-mile: Riverside Drive to SH 45 SE).

These projects include studying the addition of an express lane in each direction, as well as additional operational improvements, from RM 1431 to SH 45 southeast. This includes work on the most congested highway segment in Texas: I-35 between US 290 E. and SH 71. District Engineer for TxDOT Austin, Terry McCoy, says that the updates will improve safety on I-35 and the quality of life for those that live here or are traveling through.

“What these improvements will do is to reduce that congestion during those peak periods during those incidents. People will be able to get to where they are to where they want to be along I-35 more reliably, more consistently and more safely,” he said.

Construction will begin on I-35 at William Cannon Drive and I-35 at Stassney Lane starting next month.

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