September 1, 2023 - Austin Chronicle.com -
TxDOT vs. basically everyone in Austin.
Widespread opposition to the I-35 expansion has led to its logical conclusion: The Texas Department of Transportation is getting sued, and a whole lot of Austinites are on board.
Wednesday, at a press conference outside Stars Cafe (in the I-35 blast zone), organizers with Rethink35 announced their new lawsuit over the $4.5 billion expansion, following TxDOT's release of its final plans approving its own environmental impact statement (EIS) August 21. In a broad show of resistance to TxDOT, speakers included Council members and representatives from the Cherrywood Neighborhood Association, Austin Justice Coalition, the Parents Climate Community, Save Our Springs Alliance, and Restart Lone Star Rail.
Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis' Chief of Staff Julia Montgomery pointed to the hypocrisy in Appendix V of TxDOT's EIS, which "lays out a shockingly straight line from highway expansion to climate change." TxDOT's own appendix names telework, rideshare, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, scooters, bicycles, and pedestrian facilities as top strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but then claims that the proposed project "has a potential to reduce transportation-related [greenhouse gas emissions] especially if there is a greater mode shift to transit."
Montgomery countered: "TxDOT, you know what you need to do. You put it in your report. This massive highway expansion project sandwich may have a thin shared-use transit crust, but it is not designed for mode shift or climate action. That has never been the goal."
Photo credit: CBS Austin