NCINC2 Asks TxDOT to Form North Central Stakeholder Group for Mobility 35 Plans

16 July, 2014

Dear Ms. Benningfield and Messrs. Webber, Malatek, and McCoy,

Following the May 1st neighborhood workshop with TXDOT and North Central neighborhood stakeholder representatives and the June 26th resolution from City Council supporting a stakeholder group for Segment 4 of the I-35 Capital Area Improvement Plan (CAIP) Mobility35 Plan, the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition 2 (NCINC2) including delegates of Blackland, Cherrywood, Delwood II, Eastwoods, Hancock, Mueller, Ridgetop, Mt. Washington/Holy Cross, Schieffer-Willowbrook, Wilshire Wood/Delwood I and Windsor Park has adopted the following responses on behalf of its constituent neighborhoods:

• The rebuilding of I-35 represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make real improvements to how the corridor interacts with and supports the city through which it runs. Redesigned bridges, intersections and right-of-ways should provide improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, such as protected cycle tracks, generously wide sidewalks and ample shade, and not preclude the accommodation of rail in the corridor.

• We support the decision to drop the “Super Street” concept from the plans. Additionally, we request the opportunity to review specific proposals for how the intersections with the frontage road will operate, including specifications about all movements allowed or restricted, at the earliest possible time in order for us to be able to properly understand, evaluate and offer our considered and informed feedback well prior to Phase 3.

• In order to maintain and improve access and mobility to our neighborhoods, and to prevent excessive traffic from having to use frontage roads or find alternative routes through neighborhood streets, we hold that it is critical that TxDOT keep entrances and exits to and from the main lanes on both ends of this stretch at Airport Boulevard and MLK Jr. Boulevard/15th Street. Simply put, we view these connections as “must have’s.”

• We recognize value in the “free left turns” provided by the Diverging Diamond Interchange at Airport Boulevard, but are concerned that pedestrians and bicycles will not find this a friendly intersection to negotiate. We request that TxDOT continue to engage NCINC2 and neighbors as essential stakeholders in the design of this intersection.

• All programs of the Mobility35 CAIP Plan must be context sensitive and appropriate to the urban fabric of Central Austin, consistent with the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan, and consider the future impacts on the significant projects adjacent to this segment of I-35 including but not limited to the Dell Medical School, Innovation District, University of Texas Campus Master Plan, St. David’s Hospital, University Park, ACC-Highland, Mueller Master Plan, 51st Street Master Plan, Airport Boulevard Comprehensive Plan and potential Project Connect urban rail line. We ask that these critical projects be indicated on all Mobility35 CAIP Plan maps and the impact of plans for I-35, including development potential, be given full consideration. Further, we urge TxDOT to not seek short-term interim measures that will impair or obstruct the implementation of these projects and other plans important to the City of Austin.

• We maintain that efforts to improve traffic flow on I-35 cannot be successful without also engaging alternate routes, strategies and all modes of transportation. We call on TxDOT to seek alternative solutions for the I-35 corridor. These would include alternative modes of transit, the designation of right-of-way for future commuter rail, improving the functioning of SH-130 as a preferred arterial route for non-local freight and through-traffic, improving US-183/US-71 as a viable alternative route for local traffic and designating alternative HAZMAT routes. TxDOT should also conduct a full assessment of impacts of the Mobility35 CAIP Plan on local streets, including but not limited to Airport Boulevard, 45th Street and Manor Road, and work with the City to address efficacy of local alternative routes such as Red River Street, Airport Boulevard, Lamar Boulevard and Pleasant Valley Road. We believe the Mobility35 CAIP Plan must also recognize that the I-35 frontage roads are a critical part of the city’s surface street system.

• We ask that TxDOT consider urban rail and to more clearly address how the agency is working with—and not counter to—the potential Project Connect urban and regional rail visions. At the very least, we ask that designs not preclude future rail through the Airport Boulevard intersection.

• We also ask TxDOT to include comprehensive air quality and noise pollution studies of the corridor and explore methods by which to mitigate the negative environmental air quality and noise impacts of I-35 on the health and well-being of residents in adjacent neighborhoods in accordance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Austin Area Early Action Compact for the Control of Ozone Air Pollution. Further, we ask that TxDOT also give full consideration to economic and social factors that are required as part of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process.

The recent neighborhood engagement by TxDOT represents a first step toward a productive dialogue on these critical issues. To advance this dialogue, we urge TxDOT to strongly consider the Austin City Council’s resolution recognizing NCINC2 as a stakeholder and calling for a co-sponsored stakeholder working group for Segment 4 of the CAIP. We believe that a true stakeholders working group is necessary to achieve a workable consensus in this plan and we look forward to taking an active role in helping arrive at constructive and creative solutions to the many challenges in this segment of I-35 and to an ongoing dialogue with TxDOT about these critical issues.

Sincerely yours,

Mateo Barnstone
Chair, North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition 2,
On behalf of delegates from the participating neighborhoods of Blackland, Cherrywood, Delwood II, Eastwoods, Hancock, Mueller, Ridgetop, Mt. Washington/Holy Cross, Schieffer-Willowbrook, Wilshire Wood/Delwood I and Windsor Park

Stacey Benningfield
I-35 Program Manager
Texas Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 15426
Austin, Texas 78761-5426

Joe Webber
Executive Director
Texas Department of Transportation
125 East 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
Greg Malatek, P.E.
Austin District Engineer
Texas Department of Transportation
P.O. Drawer 15426
Austin, Texas 78761-5426

Terry McCoy, PE
North Austin Area Engineer
Texas Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 15426
Austin, Texas 78761-5426

Cc:
Senator Kirk Watson, <kirk.watson@senate.state.tx.us>
Representative Dawnna Dukes, District 46
Representative Elliott Naishtat, District 49
Mayor Lee Leffingwell
Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole
Council Member Chris Riley
Council Member Mike Martinez
Council Member Kathie Tovo
Council Member Laura Morrison
Council Member Bill Spelman
Joe Cantalupo, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
Gary Schatz, City of Austin
Rob Spillar, City of Austin
Kyle Keahey, Project Connect
Salvador Deocampo, Federal Highway Administration – Texas Division
William Powers, University of Texas
Richard Rhodes, Austin Community College
Greg Weaver, Catellus
Bart Matheney, Aquila Commercial

Sent via email

Download the PDF here: NCINC2 Joins City of Austin in Calling on TxDOT to Form a Stakeholders Working Group for Segment 4 of I-35 Capital Area Improvement Program