Expanded I-35 Could Induce Demand And Make Pollution Worse, Transportation Experts Say
By - hollow_hippie
Is this not what Project Connect is supposed to help alleviate... this whole “expand 35 wait no don’t expand it” has been going on for the 16 years I’ve lived here. It’s always been a problem. Expanding isn’t going to help either, I don’t want a damn Katy freeway clone
We haven't expanded I-35 downtown since the 70s when the double decker thing was added.
Again, what pain point does expanding solve? Answer: **None**. It will NOT make your commute faster. Additional lanes have been proven time and time again to not make suburb-to-core commutes faster. Therefore, it solves no pain points and makes problems worse by increasing pollution, auto accidents, and noise.
It sure did help the Katy freeway. It’s a night and day difference
COMEDY. Pure comedy. First of all it was built 50 years ago and you can’t compare apples to oranges.
Second: Traffic INCREASED along I-10 by 30% ANYWAY!
Do you have a source? Not only does this go against everything I’ve experienced, but the term traffic itself can have different meanings
Do you the number of cars “trafficking” i10 has increased?
Time in traffic? Please be clear.
Also what set of i10? Not sure if you are aware, but it’s a pretty long interstate. Lol woah, I just laughed out loud. Guess it is comedy that’s pure.
source of the 30% number: https://www.governing.com/assessments/asphalt-gridlock-and-common-sense
I don’t see a single study. You posted news articles, the first being a seemingly bias source that says “estimates as much as 30%”
Do you have hard data? This is a major accusations.
That’s an incredible analysis you just laid out. Let’s cut it down to one lane in each direction!
It would allow for more travel which increases economic activity. Though I agree with all of your points. Just wanted to point out that is does have at least one potential benefit.
Absolutely, the only way to fix Austin's traffic is to close down lanes and make more dedicated bus/bike lanes. You want to get people put of their vehicles? force them to weather the 107 degree heat.
Not a good solution either.
Gondolas it is than
Yeah, that’s an absolutely horrible idea
Reduce to two lanes both ways
With what infrastructure to provide for the needed travel? Austin has a pathetic public transit system. The only way that works is if we had light rail that ran to more areas.
If more lanes = bad then let’s turn it back into east ave as an experiment.
They should just close the highway and let Austinites rejoice.
Or we could get rid of all on and off ramps in Austin and then it would work great as a six lane highway!
Yea just shut it down. More lanes = bad then no lanes is ideal.
I think most people forget this is a Federal highway. The expansion is not to benefit Austin. It is to benefit the interstate system.
Which is why I agree with TxDot. If Austin wants a fancy cap, then Austin pays for it. Their job here is to facilitate interstate traffic and commerce. No reason US taxpayers should be on the hook to put bells and whistles on a highway to just benefit one city.
If people really want to make a difference they should petition the feds to buy 130 as a free beltway and then toll 35 through downtown to pay for the cap.
The toll way was a mistake. It should have been a freeway
But placing that expanded highway in the middle of a city is actively damaging the city
Then vote to do nothing and leave I35 as the beautiful six-lane highway it currently is
yes. that is an option.
It would be more beneficial to Austin, Texas, and the long haul I-35 drivers if routes around Austin like SH-130 were more used rather than expanding I-35. More appealing alternatives would make the existing downtown section more useful, and make commuting past/around Austin easier.
😂 5 billion dollars for one small section of one highway that will open and immediately be overcrowded, they’re making the same mistake they’ve made with the Katy freeway, having learned nothing. Keep fuckin’ that chicken, TXDOT.
The price tag for *all* of project connect is only 7 billion. You could apend that 5 billion on *so many* more useful transit options.
100% **will** make pollution worse, without a doubt
Lol yeah I don’t know what all the maybe could be stuff is. It will make pollution much worse. And also increase average temps in that area.
Today is the last day to have your voice heard on this project. Please comment your opposition and share with others that may be affected. Thank you.
Induced Demand is a farce. People cannot afford to buy a house in central Austin. Therefore they move to the suburbs because it is the only option they have if they want to own their dwelling.
If their commute is 1.25 hours, that sucks. But if we never upgrade our highways then that 1.25 hour commute will turn into 1.5 hours, then 1.75 hours. Meanwhile, the suburban homeowner STILL cannot afford to buy a house in central Austin.
We can pretend that not upgrading our highways works, but demand for Austin suburbs have skyrocketed without expanding I-35. So it is evident that the suburbs will grow regardless.
Let's make life better by accepting the reality that people will continue to HAVE to live in the suburbs because they can't afford a $600,000 2 bedroom house.
Strong-arming people into renting in Central Austin by making traffic horrible only makes life worse for commuters (who have no other option).
Great argument for a better train system.
A good train system would alleviate so many problems in Austin. But NIMBYs and conservatives will make sure that never happens. Can't have no soshuhlizm here in good 'ol Texas, no sir.
I would love a train system! Unfortunatley, that will take forever to build, if it ever gets built. So in addition to a train, we still ought to expand our highways.
This is a nonsense argument. Do you think that demolishing the current I-35 upper deck and replacing it won’t take just as long as laying some rails?
It will. But we already have a car culture here, so even once a train is complete, it's going to take a generation to get people converted to train commuters.
I dont see it as an either/or situation, but a both situation.
At the end of the day, many people arent going to take the train when it is over 90 degrees for 4 months of the year. People will just drive in gridlock on the highway so they wont have to get super sweaty walking from the train station to where ever they need to go.
“There is a good solution but I want a bad solution that doesn’t fix the problem for my children and following generations because it will take a while!!”
I just don’t think there is as much inertia to offloading the car and insurance and gas payment as all that.
Sure, it’s nice to be able to hop in a car and go for a road trip, but you can rent cars too and save a lot of money over a year.
You already have a lot of people moving around every year or two for a new lease, transit options can factor in to the decision of where to live really quickly.
It works in hundreds of city’s around the world. The notion we “have a car culture” means we should disregard train options is silly. These are long term projects that will affect you children
LRT is not a Lionel train set. Realistically we will be getting on the Orange line 10 to 15 years after TXDOT has this iteration of I-35 central is complete.
Remind me how the recent mopac improvements went? Was it ahead of schedule and under budget?
I never said nor do I believe that any of these projects will be ahead of schedule or under budget, but based on the fact that one is infinitely simpler to do, currently has 98% of the ROW, and is supported by a broader coalition it will be done sooner.
It will take the same amount of time either way.
When should we stop expanding highways?
When there is nothing green left. /s
When we don’t have the demand for them? Remember the freeze when we had runs on everything because the stores couldn’t keep up? That gets way worse, wtf
I keep saying run rail down the middle of the freeway.
Stops at major intersections.
I think it would be quick and fast.
Cheap alternative till we can save for a better solution.
This is why TXDOT should be pumping money into alternatives to car transportation like commuter rail and light rail.
You can’t build highways to get out of this because they’re just too space inefficient in populated areas.
"To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
TXDOT is in the road makin' bizness.
Vast majority of people don’t realize TxDOT is in the road makin’ bizness—97% of all funds are constitutionally constrained to be spent on roads. https://ftp.txdot.gov/pub/txdot-info/sla/education_series/funding.pdf
Yeah, almost like the state government is more about subsidizing the oil and gas industry than actually funding useful transit.
Right?? Also, the road contractors themselves are a very powerful lobby: https://agctx.org
They should really change their name.
Suburban drivers will continue to see increased driving commutes whether we do expand the lanes of I-35 or we don't, if we do nothing else to solve for urban sprawl and transportation.
That’s not true at all - induced demand is a very well established urban planning theory.
Instead, you’ve presented a false dichotomy - building highways or not building highways.
The reality is that there are more methods of transportation than just cars. Light rail, commuter rail, bicycles, buses, and private cars are all components that should be factored in when thinking of a healthy transportation network. Unfortunately, TxDOT is almost entirely focused on facilitating car transportation at the detriment of a multi-modal solution.
Looking at your example of the problem facing Austinites looking to buy a house in the suburbs, having a comprehensive commuter rail solution would do more to scale Austin’s growing traffic needs than adding a couple of HOV lanes on I-35. We already have the Red line, and the Green line is planned in the future, but I’d really like to see a new commuter rail line that parallels I-35 both north and south, to give those commuters a viable convenient alternative.
Fix the land development code and build dense housing and transit that doesn't require infinitely larger and larger highways.
Raise the gas tax if we want things to be equitable for all instead of just those who move further and further out and expect to be subsidized.
I mostly agree with this, but NIMBYs will shit themselves at any hint of changing zoning laws and building dense housing.
Yep, time for the city to get some strong leaders. Way past due to take action on this. Everything changes, no one is owed anything.
What if not everyone wants to live in Soviet style apartment blocks priced like this was Switzerland?
There are solutions to urban dense housing that mean leaving room for appealing homeownership. We should look to the great cities of Europe, and the largest cities in the world which have effectively kept green space, like Tokyo and Mexico City amongst many others.
LOL Tokyo is so crowded and urbanized you HAVE to go to a park to experience nature. And it’s not like there’s a park every block. It’s depressing really.
Then you still can own your own house out in the sticks. However the rest of us won’t have to subsidize it anymore
Actually, the reverse is true.
May need to explain yourself more than that.
If you are talking about Soviet societies subsidizing housing then I’m afraid we are completely off topic. However if you are trying to argue that suburb expansion isn’t a result of driving and SFH subsidies then I have some examples for you:
SFH subsidies: mortgage interest tax deductions, FHA backed loans (the reason your mortgage rate is so low), various NIMBY backed government policies that make it impossible to build non-SFHs
Driving subsidies: minimum parking requirements, publicly funded highway systems, large government gas subsidies that keep prices low, no price on pollution, imminent domain for mostly highway expansions, etc…
No one is going to be building those in whatever backwater hick town you really live in, so jog on now fossil.
Austin is not a backwater hick town. We do have a lot of well meaning but innumerate people who live in a fantasy world.
All that sounds nice. But it's just not going to happen unfortunatley in Texas because Republicans call the shots. Even if Austin passes municipal laws, the lege will likely overrule them anyways to give the finger to ATX.
So since nothing will change for the foreseeable future, we need to accept the reality of the situation that if we don't expand the highways then all that changes is that peoples commutes will become more miserable.
I'm waiting for Beto to run on the platform of "I'm taking your AR-15s and am not go to improve our highway system".
Great argument for updated land codes so we can build more housing in central Austin.
The problem isn't the road. The problem is that housing is treated as an investment, not a human need. This is woven into our culture so tightly we'll never fix it, but that also means we're going to continuously waste our resources trying to fix the problems that stem from it by doing everything BUT solving the problem.
Electing for a long ass commute so you can live in a McMansion in the burbs is not a good reason for Austinites to give up acres of prime DT real estate so you can shave 15 min off your hour and thirty minute commute. Sorry your pity party is not compelling.
> Induced Demand is a farce.
Not a farce, just a concept that is usually applied incorrectly which makes trying to discuss expanding 35 an exercise in frustration.
I don't have a problem with IH35 expanding but the real issue is Austin not having a loop (or beltway) around the city so you can AVOID IH35. Dallas, Houston and San Antonio have them as well as most major metropolitan areas. WHY can't Austin figure this out (and please don't say 45 is supposed to be a loop because it's not). You should be able to connect east, west, north and south without having to drive down IH35.
You have mopac, 71, 183 then 290 for a while, 45 and 620:360 - that’s mostly a loop, right? Oh, are you saying it takes too long but it’s the solution?
I think what you're saying actually aligns with essentially removing 35 through the city and making a loop way to bypass if you're passing through.
Even if a lot of the traffic is local there would be alternative routes available for this that aren't an interstate.
Interstates are designed to be limited access to allow traffic to flow better.
So having 35 functionally as a local access means we're getting something that's not doing either job very well.
This may come as a shock to you, but unlike San Antonio there is a huge lake and Hill country on the west side of town.
Austin’s only solution is to bite the bullet and build more densely. Narrow streets, tall and cramped buildings.
Yes please I would love that
People are going to keep moving here regardless of whether or not I-35 gets expanded. The demand to be in or around Austin is already sky high, expanding I-35 will barely move the needle.
Then why expand if it won’t help?
Where did I say it wouldn’t help? All I said is it’s dumb to think that I-35 is going to move the needle when it comes to causing traffic demand in Austin. People are moving here at a breakneck pace regardless of what happens to I-35. I-35 downtown is already at a crawl for 12+ hours a day, and Austin’s growth is not going to slow down. It’d be nice to get that peak hour back down to something more reasonable, 2-3 hours in the morning and evening instead of just doing nothing and letting that peak grow longer and longer until it’s no longer a peak, just a constant state of gridlock.
Exactly. It's not like there is decades of data showing that this happens when highways are built or anything.
Look at Austin. "If we don't build it, they won't come" did not work. Traffic just gets worse each year. Had we expanded the highways 10 or 20 years ago, traffic would be much better because people move to Austin regardless.
Yep. Not building doesn't stop people from coming. Building highways doesn't actually reduce traffic jams.
There needs to be something different. We need a real mass transit system, denser development, and functioning neighborhoods were people can meet more of their needs closer to home.
The same thing happened with Tucson. They had a proposal for an E-W freeway across the north side of town, but it was voted down. They didn't want the city to expand.
Instead the city expanded anyway, much of it in line with the I-10 (on both sides of town) and the I-19. Of course development also happened that puts a huge strain on surface streets.
Building highways allows more traffic to transit the same space…..like, what
Train and bus systems work extremely well to move most people around in most of the world. Not places with the size, density, and car-centric lifestyle of the Austin metro area. Many high-growth coastal cities have suffered under ever-increasing traffic and housing costs for many years partially because roadway improvements have been killed by these arguments.
Texas metro areas have kept costs relatively affordable despite strong economic and population growth because they have been able to effectively expand outwards. This is the future for Austin as well.
The idea that because we are spread out we can't do better transit and alternatives - this gets the ordering wrong.
We're spread out because we don't build this stuff as much. Constantly expanding highways as the only option makes us spread out more.
Getting rid of the bottleneck is all that's needed
Bad drivers create bottlenecks.
There needs to be more public education on merging and keeping enough space between you and the car in front of you for someone else to merge.
So does the freeway going from 4 lanes to 3 lanes through downtown...then back to 4.
Wouldn't be a problem if people could merge without slamming their brakes
That's scientifically not true.
But it is. The size of the tube is only half of the equation for flow rate, and mathematically each additional lane has less of an effect.
Pre-post notes: I'm not originally from the US, my home country has decent public transportation and it's easy to get around. I like public transportation, being able to walk to places and I don't like driving everywhere if I can avoid it. I don't use I-35 daily and my only source of knowledge for city planning is Cities: Skylines. I also hate suburbs.
I just don't understand this argument of induced demand. Is there anyone who'd prefer driving just because they added lanes? In my case for example, buses are so ridiculously bad compared to worst case traffic (30-40min commute with traffic from south Austin, compared to 1h15min without traffic for the bus) that if better bus options are not made available adding a lane could only make the life of a driver better since public transport was not an option to begin with. If the argument is "Traffic should be unbearable so that people would start to choose public transportation", then that's pretty bleak.
Regarding sprawling and gradual increase in demand, the answer is "duh". It's like saying "Roads won't be enough if the city grows forever", I mean of course yeah... Unless you change zoning density there's no way to avoid it, the city is growing and people will look for cheaper options if high density regions are too expensive. The city should provide infrastructure where needed. Not every city needs to become dense urban place like New York.
I don't have a solution, I just dislike titles like these with very simplified summary of a hard problem. But I don't think they have a solution either.
Increased lanes simply will not make your life or commute better. You will still be on the road in a car for the same amount of time, because more people will live and drive from your area to your destination, due to increasing population and sprawl. Actually, your commute will be *worse* because you will have a statistically higher likelihood of experience a car accident, a higher likelihood of being trapped in traffic behind a car accident, and a higher likelihood of smog will kill you earlier.
But the demand is rising regardless of the status of I-35 because city is growing while public transportation continues to suck. If other options are going to suck anyway, why not develop I-35?
There were options to improve I35 without expanding the lanes, and those were shot down by TxDOT.
I don't think we should add lanes to highways because that has been shown to disproportionally help out lower income people who are forced to live in the suburbs due to housing costs.
Feel free to share a source on that. Historically it has been very much the opposite, but that may have recently flipped due to NIMBY housing policies causing price surges in the city.
Also if your argument is helping low income people then how can support freeways over more public transportation? Or do you draw the line at only poor people that can afford a car and home in the burbs
I didn't say I support freeways over more public transportation.
But thank you for assuming!
Hmm yes, I assumed sarcasm but, if not, seems I was pulled in by a troll
Austin's gonna be the new LA.