FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 17, 2014
Threatened by TxDOT proposals to remake I-35 through Central Texas, a number of Central Austin neighborhood associations have formed the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition 2 (NCINC2), a working group of neighborhoods that will be directly affected by changes proposed for I-35 from Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. north to Highway 183. The initial set of proposals in the I-35 Capital Area Improvement Program (“I-35 CAIP”) plans contained the “Super Street” concept that would further segregate East and West Austin and which galvanized initial concerns about the TxDOT plans. The group then came together as a result of TxDOT’s failure to respond to calls from various organizations in the area to form a stakeholders working group similar to the Downtown Stakeholder Working Group. NCINC2 is composed of delegates from neighborhood associations on both sides of I-35 including: Blackland, Cherrywood, Delwood II, Eastwoods, Mueller, Schieffer-Willowbrook, Wilshire Wood/Delwood I, Windsor Park, and others.
“The changes to the segment of I-35 through the upper and lower deck split and continuing up to 183 are particularly intense,” said Mateo Barnstone, Chair of NCINC2, “TxDOT’s initial proposals contained untested concepts that threatened critical links between East and West Austin.” Noting that the baseline condition is poor to begin with, “I-35 already presents a significant physical and psychological barrier. Given the paramount importance of East/West permeability across the corridor and the sweeping nature of the proposed changes, it makes good sense to bring together all the affected stakeholders in order to develop consensus for a plan that could make real improvements to the I-35 corridor.” Bo McCarver of the Blackland Neighborhood Association expressed concerns over TxDOT’s failure to provide a viable plan to move more people and goods through the I-35 corridor in Central Texas via alternative modes. “The present TxDOT proposal fails to consider commuter rail on I-35 and would impose years of expensive construction at various intersections that in the end will not improve transportation in the corridor. This is a boondoggle,” said McCarver, “the people of Austin deserve better.”
The mission of NCINC2 is to:
- Engage as a community with TxDOT, the City of Austin, Travis County and CAMPO throughout the I-35 CAIP process;
- Inform and educate each other and the residents of the constituent neighborhoods about proposed changes to the I-35 corridor and potential impacts to adjacent communities;
- Promote East/West connectivity and advocate for the interest of stakeholder neighborhoods in the I-35 corridor from Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. north to Hwy 183;
- Explore and advocate for viable transportation alternatives;
- Share information about important developments and milestones in the I-35 CAIP process as well as neighborhood updates and issues among NCINC2 stakeholders;
- Raise awareness of the concerns of Central Austin neighborhoods about the I-35 CAIP, particularly among local public elected officials and candidates for office at the city, county and state levels, and
- Communicate our findings and concerns to other municipalities and neighborhoods throughout the Central Texas I-35 Corridor.
“Our very first stated goal is to convince TxDOT to convene a true stakeholders working group for the neighborhoods, businesses, organizations and institutions impacted by proposed changes,” said Barnstone, “we intend to be a part of this critical conversation about the future of Austin.”
The members of NCINC2 chose the name as a reference to a coalition of Eastside neighborhood associations called NCINC that formed in 2001 around neighborhood concerns raised by a very similar plan proposed by TxDOT. “The neighborhoods then and now are more or less the same,” said Girard Kinney, founding chair of the Cherrywood Neighborhood Association and participant in both efforts, “and the big picture issues are almost identical. TxDOT is now, and was then, prioritizing throughput and rewarding long trips at the expense of centrally located neighborhoods that are adjacent to I-35. We think this is short sighted policy that will only exacerbate the problems we have in Austin.”