September 1, 2023 - Austin - 

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."

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Photo credit: CBS Austin