Hazardous Materials route options under scrutiny in Austin

Hazardous materials

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The public is getting a chance to weigh in on draft options for trucks carrying hazardous cargo through Austin.

Interstate 35 is the busiest freeway through Austin and right now, any truck — no matter its cargo — can freely move through the corridor unimpeded. But city project managers say finding a route for high-risk loads must take into account proximity to homes and businesses and schools.

KXAN first reported in 2015 how the state mandates every city bigger than 850,000 population have a special, marked route for hazardous loads. Austin hit that population in 2013, but it’s taken until now to hire a consultant and develop options.

The first option includes SH 130, parts of which are privately owned. The second option includes smaller roadways like the MoPac Expressway

“We did look specifically at [factors like] population density and the high crash risk area. It looks like the current route options avoid the downtown core because of [those reasons],” said Tien-Tien Chan, City Transportation Department Project Manager.

Along with public feedback, transportation planners also plan to consult with first responders and other groups before making a final recommendation to council and Texas Department of Transportation by next fall. After that, the city will have 18 months to work with TxDOT to get the route approved and marked.

Here’s a link to the project plans and where you can leave your own online comment.

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