It should come as no surprise to anyone who drives I-35 through Austin.
The stretch of the interstate from U.S. Highway 290 north to State Highway 71, Ben White Boulevard in the south, has been identified as the most congested roadway in Texas. That and many other identified Texas highways judged as the largest congestion offenders in the state do not have any rail transit alternatives built in to the roadway infrastructure.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) released its findings Tuesday.
The West Loop of I-610 in Houston, which held the title of worst highway congestion in Texas for the past two years, slipped to #2.
Rounding out the Top 5 worst traffic hot spots are Southwest Freeway (I-69) in Houston, Dallas’ Woodall Rodgers Freeway and the Eastex Freeway (1-69) in Houston.
TTI only rated pre-pandemic conditions and used data from traffic volume and speed to measure congestion on roadways.
Earlier this summer the Texas Department of Transportation announced that the agency is looking at the offending stretch of I-35 through downtown Austin, which is both elevated and depressed in sections, as a must-do project. The thought of adding rail to the project as a traffic reliever option has not been considered.
The price tag for the I-35 redo, Interstate 35 Capital Express Central Project, is said to be in the $5 billion range. The makeover would contain two non-tolled HOV managed lanes in each direction.
In late 2019 a bi-artisan coalition of 20 State Representatives sent a letter to House Speaker Dennis Bonnen asking for an interim charge to look at passenger rail relief through Austin to San Antonio, but Bonnen declined to address the issue before the start of the upcoming January 2021 session.
J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, in a statement issued Tuesday said that "unfortunately, for drivers in central Texas, congestion on I-35 in Austin is now the worst choke point in the state. But relief is on the way since the Texas Transportation Commission recently included the I-35 Capital Express Project in TxDOT’s 10-year plan, that will advance project development and construction,”
TTI's solutions include adding road and transit capacity, quickly clearing crashes, efficiently timing traffic signals and managing work zones.