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Author Topic: Austin, TX  (Read 43515 times)

ethanhopkin14

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #275 on: August 31, 2021, 11:02:53 AM »

One point that appears to be going over at least a few heads: more people than just residents of Austin have to drive between Austin and Houston. That includes a growing amount of commercial traffic. And the amount of commercial traffic is really going to shoot up as the Austin region attracts more giant-size distribution centers and factories.

Quote from: Plutonic Panda
I’m not buying the federal government funding HSR while Texas is trying to the first leg built. I definitely don’t buy it’d be an easier sell than an interstate connection.

High speed rail in America is an insanely costly pipe dream. The cost of building a new Interstate highway is a mere fraction of what HSR costs. We're talking tens of billions of dollars for just a couple or so hundred miles of rail. It's ridiculous.

On top of that HSR in most parts of the US wouldn't work all that well. Aside from the oldest American cities in the Northeast Corridor most urban areas are very spread out. HSR works reasonably well in parts of Asia and Europe because many of those cities are densely packed. And they're augmented by a lot of slower speed passenger rail systems. Everyone knows Japan has the "bullet train" -aka the Shinkansen. But that nation is also vastly connected by a secondary rail network. And they have plenty of subways, light rail lines and even trolleys. Most people in Japan don't have to travel far at all to reach a standard train station. In Japan it's not hard to travel from a small town to a big city by train. The same is not true at all in the United States.

American cities are spread-out, especially those in the South and Southwest. You gotta have a personal vehicle. Life is a pain in the @$$ without one. So even if proposed HSR routes in Texas, California and elsewhere could get built it would be a long shot for the trains to attract high ridership numbers. High speed rail networks also cannot function properly without a well developed secondary passenger rail network. The US doesn't have such a thing. American HSR customers would have to drive to some HSR train station in or near a downtown urban center and a pay a fortune to park there. And for what? To take a train a couple hundreds miles? It would probably be easier, cheaper and maybe ultimately faster to just keep driving. Once automobile travel took off in popularity in the US a lot of small town train stations started closing. Many routes were discontinued. Over the past 30 or so years the US has been removing far more rail lines than it has been building.

To your point, most people don't realize it's not a matter of throwing a locomotive that can do 250 mph on the existing railroad.  It takes a special kind of railroad to withstand that kind of beating, so a completely new set of right-of-way and tracks have to be built for it.  That's amazingly expensive. 

I am of the same mindset.  We have light rail here in Austin.  It is limited.  I don't live in the areas it serves, but I think if I did, I still wouldn't use it.  I would have to drive miles to get to it, park and ride it, then walk miles to get to my job.  I would rather just keep driving to my office. 
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Bobby5280

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #276 on: August 31, 2021, 01:14:23 PM »

We can't even built a reasonably straight highway in the United States anymore. The kind of ROW path required by true high speed rail is very straight to an uncompromising extreme. Any curves are on only the most extremely wide of turn radii. All the NIMBY crap and other self-serving political nonsense we have going in the US now gets in the way of that. And that's a big reason why that joke of a HSR line in California is being confined to the central valley and going nowhere near Los Angeles or San Francisco.

To compound that issue, construction costs in the US on even the most ordinary things is being allowed to skyrocket past the stratosphere into deep space. Already many small towns and cities around the US are financially unable to properly maintain their streets. In the near future it would not surprise me if a concrete driveway in front of a house cost more than the house itself.
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CoreySamson

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #277 on: August 31, 2021, 03:28:49 PM »

Great points, guys.

In addition to what Bobby5280 said, I think mass transit for those in non-urban areas is very time-consuming and complicated, especially in comparison to owning a car. I don't doubt that using mass transit really works in dense urban areas, but the truth is that outside of New York, San Francisco, and some other bigger cities, America is really spread out. Using mass transit in a normal American city would look something like this:

1. Get to mass transit station, either by driving, walking, or biking
2. Wait for mass transit to arrive (probably a while)
3. Ride mass transit
4. Get off mass transit
5. Walk to destination or transfer to other mass transit option, repeat steps 2-4

Meanwhile, using a car or ride-hailing service looks like this:

1. Get in car from starting point
2. Drive to destination
3. Park car and get out to destination

Driving a car, in most scenarios, would probably take a lot less time than the mass transit alternative. For mass transit to work in America, it would need to be extremely comprehensive, which given today's costs for building such mass transit infrastructure, would probably cost at least tens of billions of dollars for a city the size of Peoria, IL. And there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Not to mention that if you don't have a car, the easiest way to run errands is to stack them all one after another on one day so you don't have to repeat that 1-5 process multiple times a week. Plus having a car (or even a ride-hailing service) means having freedom. You can pick up your kids from school, you can react to emergencies quickly, and you can take your guitar to your friend's house across town for a fun Saturday afternoon jam session. Can you do any of that without a car? Maybe, but it would certainly be annoying.

Plus, (pardon my kernals12-esque ideas here) I believe that very soon the advent of autonomous cars, electric cars, and ride-hailing will allow for cheaper maintenance, less fuel costs, and more free time while driving, which I think are some of the big problems people have with owning cars right now.

Bobby5280

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #278 on: August 31, 2021, 11:48:42 PM »

Even in dense cities like New York City the act of using mass transit is an incredible time-suck. When I lived there it took me 90 minutes each way commuting from Staten Island to Midtown Manhattan and about an hour each way taking the subway from Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan.

The mass transit commuting experience is often not pleasant either. You're out in the weather when waiting for a city bus. Once you're on the bus you might be crammed-in, even "strap-hanging" standing in the aisle due to no free seats. The same goes for the subway. You'll be subjected to anyone's lack of personal hygiene or manners -y'know, their B.O., bad breath and farts. I don't know the condition of the NYC subway system now, but I'll never forget that smell combination from 30 years ago: vehicle exhaust fumes and this orange juice scented cleaning solution designed to kill the smell of human piss. The citrus cleaning stuff did not work 100%. So it was the combo of orange juice, pee and vehicle exhaust.

The real benefit to using the bus, ferry and subway in NYC was avoiding the hassle and high cost of parking in Manhattan.

In many large cities elsewhere in the country, particularly the newer, more spread-out cities in the South and Southwest, it's not hard to find places to park for free. Most businesses have their own parking lots, garages, etc for employees and customers.

Only the largest cities have any ability for mass transit rail systems to turn any kind of profit. In smaller cities (like here in Lawton) we're stuck with the bus. Our city bus system (LATS) does not run 24/7 and does not run 7 days a week. The bus service is pretty dependent on government subsidies to stay operational.

If self driving car technology is perfected any time soon it will launch a new renaissance of highway travel. It will be revolutionary. It will change many aspects of business, how people commute and how people take road trips. There will be really different, perhaps very odd, autonomous vehicle designs coming out of factories.
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ethanhopkin14

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #279 on: September 01, 2021, 11:52:48 AM »

Even in dense cities like New York City the act of using mass transit is an incredible time-suck. When I lived there it took me 90 minutes each way commuting from Staten Island to Midtown Manhattan and about an hour each way taking the subway from Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan.

The mass transit commuting experience is often not pleasant either. You're out in the weather when waiting for a city bus. Once you're on the bus you might be crammed-in, even "strap-hanging" standing in the aisle due to no free seats. The same goes for the subway. You'll be subjected to anyone's lack of personal hygiene or manners -y'know, their B.O., bad breath and farts. I don't know the condition of the NYC subway system now, but I'll never forget that smell combination from 30 years ago: vehicle exhaust fumes and this orange juice scented cleaning solution designed to kill the smell of human piss. The citrus cleaning stuff did not work 100%. So it was the combo of orange juice, pee and vehicle exhaust.

The real benefit to using the bus, ferry and subway in NYC was avoiding the hassle and high cost of parking in Manhattan.

In many large cities elsewhere in the country, particularly the newer, more spread-out cities in the South and Southwest, it's not hard to find places to park for free. Most businesses have their own parking lots, garages, etc for employees and customers.

Only the largest cities have any ability for mass transit rail systems to turn any kind of profit. In smaller cities (like here in Lawton) we're stuck with the bus. Our city bus system (LATS) does not run 24/7 and does not run 7 days a week. The bus service is pretty dependent on government subsidies to stay operational.

If self driving car technology is perfected any time soon it will launch a new renaissance of highway travel. It will be revolutionary. It will change many aspects of business, how people commute and how people take road trips. There will be really different, perhaps very odd, autonomous vehicle designs coming out of factories.

Sorry, I died laughing at the smell of orange, piss and vehicle exhaust.  Sounds like every subway system I have ever ridden, with the exception of usually the staff doesn't have the courtesy to actually mask the urine smell so you just get piss and exhaust (looking at you London Underground). 

Basically I see mass transit used for two things:  a way for tourists to tour a city and a way to get home after you get black-out drunk at a bar.  Using it for reliable, timely transportation is just fools gold.  I am not saying people don't commute on it, many do, but you have to admit if you don't give yourself three hours for every hour car drive distance, then you are definitely not getting to your destination on time. 
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TheBox

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #280 on: September 01, 2021, 02:04:43 PM »

Sorry to get into politics a bit, but with it's 6 new controversial laws that just passed, Texas is gonna be even more of a pain of the ass maybe

cause Texas is really desperate to get these people that the state don't like to move out of Texas, and move them to a (actual) blue state instead (they sure as hell won't go back to California nor New York cause of living cost alone, so those are off the table that's for sure)
but they won't leave anytime soon (cause they probably don't have the money to move yet)

That's the consequences of a state as big as Texas
« Last Edit: September 01, 2021, 02:13:00 PM by TheBox »
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longhorn

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #281 on: September 01, 2021, 04:11:27 PM »

'No wider, no higher:' Opposition heats up to TxDOT's Austin I-35 expansion plan

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/09/01/austin-i-35-expansion-txdot-construction-opposition/5681378001/

And many wander why I-14 is getting more attention than AUS-HOU Interstate.
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ethanhopkin14

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #282 on: September 01, 2021, 04:13:52 PM »

'No wider, no higher:' Opposition heats up to TxDOT's Austin I-35 expansion plan

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/09/01/austin-i-35-expansion-txdot-construction-opposition/5681378001/

And many wander why I-14 is getting more attention than AUS-HOU Interstate.
The Austin-Houston interstate would see construction outside of the two cities as the freeways it would be laid on have already (or are currently being) built, so for freeway revolts, little will be seen.

This is so dumb because people are saying an improved freeway won't improve traffic????????
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #283 on: September 01, 2021, 05:05:23 PM »

'No wider, no higher:' Opposition heats up to TxDOT's Austin I-35 expansion plan

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/09/01/austin-i-35-expansion-txdot-construction-opposition/5681378001/

And many wander why I-14 is getting more attention than AUS-HOU Interstate.
That’s exactly why the tunnels need to be built. Without the tunnels this project seems like a lost cause.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #284 on: September 01, 2021, 07:10:19 PM »

Building a tunnel in the US without it breaking the bank is a lost cause.

Quote from: ethanhopkin14
The Austin-Houston interstate would see construction outside of the two cities as the freeways it would be laid on have already (or are currently being) built, so for freeway revolts, little will be seen.

Exactly. An Austin-Houston Interstate link, be it TX-71 and/or US-290, would not have any construction taking place within Austin or Houston city limits. The towns and rural areas between the two giant cities are what would be affected.

US-290 is Interstate quality well outside of Houston, to the TX-6 junction in Hempstead. US-290 is Interstate quality just East of the TX-130 toll road. Freeway upgrades through Manor to Elgin wouldn't be difficult, much of the ROW is clear. TX-71 does need some serious freeway-quality improvements next to Austin-Bergstrom Int'l Airport, but those upgrades will be forced to happen anyway regardless of any Austin-Houston Interstate link.

Quote from: TheBox
Sorry to get into politics a bit, but with it's 6 new controversial laws that just passed, Texas is gonna be even more of a pain of the ass maybe cause Texas is really desperate to get these people that the state don't like to move out of Texas, and move them to a (actual) blue state instead (they sure as hell won't go back to California nor New York cause of living cost alone, so those are off the table that's for sure) but they won't leave anytime soon (cause they probably don't have the money to move yet). That's the consequences of a state as big as Texas

The new laws the Texas state legislature passed are acts of desperation in the face of steady, demographic changes and a plummeting national fertility/birth rate. Small towns and rural areas are losing most of their young adults to the bigger cities, taking their contributions to the tax base with them. The costs of city services from street maintenance to police are going up and up. People in the small towns and rural areas have at least done themselves the favor of having high voter turnout. But now with some of these "voter integrity" laws being passed it is pitting the giant number of people in urban centers against those small towns. The folks in the small towns and rural areas can try to game the system all they want. But at some point the sheer numbers of people in the urban centers will become the top priority.

On the other topic, the costs of health care, day care, housing and various other trappings of parenthood are growing so extremely expensive that it's turning into one hell of an effective birth control bill. That new law in Texas is largely irrelevant. Young people are getting exceptionally good at not getting pregnant in the first place. For instance the teen pregnancy rate is 1/3 what it was 30 years ago. Adult women aren't having enough children to replace Americans who die. As of the 2020 Census, America's white population shrank for the first time in the nation's history. If the Supreme Court overturns or invalidates that one landmark law from 50-ish years ago business will absolutely boom at clinics performing vasectomies and tubal ligations.

The ironic thing is the anti-immigration sentiment so popular now might end up seeming pretty strange about 20 years from now. If current trends with America's birth rate continue for the long term this nation will be begging and pleading for immigrants by 2040. America will be a nation top-heavy with old farts. We'll have industries leaving the country due to lack of labor. We'll even have trouble staffing our military. I could even see the draft returning. As for the aging American-born population, a lot of us will have to keep working. I don't expect things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to be around by the time I'm eligible to retire. The math just isn't there to support it, nor will there be a labor force to support it either.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #285 on: September 01, 2021, 08:17:08 PM »

Then is building a tunnel is a lost cause forget any new lanes on I-35 through downtown.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #286 on: September 01, 2021, 11:47:42 PM »

'No wider, no higher:' Opposition heats up to TxDOT's Austin I-35 expansion plan

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/09/01/austin-i-35-expansion-txdot-construction-opposition/5681378001/

And many wander why I-14 is getting more attention than AUS-HOU Interstate.
That’s exactly why the tunnels need to be built. Without the tunnels this project seems like a lost cause.

See page 8 of this document
https://capexcentral.mobility35openhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Alternatives-Evaluation-Presentation-2021.pdf

The tunnel option (Alternative 1) has an estimated cost of $7.72 billion vs. around $3.6 billion for non-tunnel alternatives 2 and 3. Annual maintenance for Alternative 1 is also much higher at $14.4 million/year vs. 2.2 million/year.
We're in the United States where tunnels are always obscenely expensive. I think Alternative 1 was further inflated by the very difficult constructability, which probably would have necessitated very costly temporary structures to keep the freeway open during construction.

I think a $7.72 billion option is dead on arrival. If Alternatives 2 and 3 are unable to move forward, then the project will die a quick death.

Anthony_JK

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #287 on: September 02, 2021, 06:09:49 AM »

Nope, the next move will be to simply convert existing I-35 into a surface boulevard and reroute it along SH 45 and Toll 130.

The New Urbanists have essentially overwhelmed the public against centrally located freeways.

They don't really care about the aftereffects, just so that they can sell their light rail/supertrain/"screw all cars" philosophy.

 
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thisdj78

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #288 on: September 02, 2021, 07:52:32 AM »

Nope, the next move will be to simply convert existing I-35 into a surface boulevard and reroute it along SH 45 and Toll 130.

The New Urbanists have essentially overwhelmed the public against centrally located freeways.

They don't really care about the aftereffects, just so that they can sell their light rail/supertrain/"screw all cars" philosophy.

Or Keep I-35 as is and toll the left lanes, then convert 130 to non-tolled route.
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I-35

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #289 on: September 02, 2021, 10:50:53 AM »

Nope, the next move will be to simply convert existing I-35 into a surface boulevard and reroute it along SH 45 and Toll 130.

The New Urbanists have essentially overwhelmed the public against centrally located freeways.

They don't really care about the aftereffects, just so that they can sell their light rail/supertrain/"screw all cars" philosophy.

This is a daft take.  What works for Waco doesn't work for Austin - it isn't that difficult a concept to understand.  Land prices in DT Austin are north of $400/SF - it makes sense to consider options that add valuable property back to the tax base.  The difference between the non-tunneled and tunneled version could easily be captured in a TIF-type financing district, and would be well worth it for all involved.   TxDOT's one-size-fits-all approach is emblematic of the problem of governing the increasingly bifurcated state as a whole.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #290 on: September 02, 2021, 12:36:21 PM »

Quote from: MaxConcrete
I think a $7.72 billion option is dead on arrival. If Alternatives 2 and 3 are unable to move forward, then the project will die a quick death.

I'm not optimistic any of the alternatives will be approved. It's very likely I-35 in Central Austin will remain stuck in its current configuration (and condition) for the foreseeable future. Or at least until local attitudes about super highways change. I'm guessing the New Urbanist types in Austin believe there are no consequences to that portion of I-35 being an absolute PITA to use. They don't see the potential long term economic and safety downsides.

Just like the anti-highway crowd in Houston, I think if the folks in Austin proper don't want any improvements made to that part of I-35 then TX DOT needs to direct those billions of dollars in highway funding elsewhere. The state has lots of other highway corridors in need of improvement.

Quote from: I-35
What works for Waco doesn't work for Austin - it isn't that difficult a concept to understand.

I-35 is not a local city street in Austin. It is a major arterial thoroughfare. Far more than just locals have to drive on it.

Quote from: Anthony_JK
The New Urbanists have essentially overwhelmed the public against centrally located freeways. They don't really care about the aftereffects, just so that they can sell their light rail/supertrain/"screw all cars" philosophy.

I think a bunch of these New Urbanist types are full of $#!+. Are they actually living what they preach? I'll bet if you followed any of those people around you would see most, if not all, of them using private automobiles frequently, either driving their own personal vehicles or using an upper crust car service. I don't see these political wonks burning hours of time commuting, standing out in the weather at a bus stop or getting crammed into a crowded bus or train car.

In one respect I kind of hope these New Urbanists succeed in tearing out the portion of I-35 in downtown Austin, turning it into a surface street completely cluttered with traffic lights. Business in the downtown district will take a nose-dive. Let them make it happen.
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I-35

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #291 on: September 02, 2021, 12:49:30 PM »

I-35 is not a local city street in Austin. It is a major arterial thoroughfare. Far more than just locals have to drive on it.

Austin should have some say in how an expanded Interstate 35 is configured running through their urban core.  The cut-and-cover or buried tunnel is the only option that works for all parties.  I'm not even in the "turn it into the Champs Elysees" camp, as there are far too many interrregional trucks using I-35 for that to make sense.  Converting Mopac to a boulevard makes more sense, because truck traffic is nil on that compared to I-35.  The only other option that (to my knowledge) is not being considered is running an x35 bypass through eastern Austin and linking back in with 183 to create a short distance bypass of Downtown.  The land acquisition costs with that would probably be astronomical, but it would allow 35 to continue functioning as an interregional highway without forcing commercial traffic onto Toll 130.
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sprjus4

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #292 on: September 02, 2021, 01:30:58 PM »

The only other option that (to my knowledge) is not being considered is running an x35 bypass through eastern Austin and linking back in with 183 to create a short distance bypass of Downtown.  The land acquisition costs with that would probably be astronomical, but it would allow 35 to continue functioning as an interregional highway without forcing commercial traffic onto Toll 130.
So... let's demolish at least a thousand homes and tear a new freeway through East Austin in order to save some businesses that directly front an existing interstate alignment nearby from expansion. Got it.
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kphoger

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #293 on: September 02, 2021, 01:51:04 PM »

fritztunnel that shizzle
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I-35

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #294 on: September 02, 2021, 02:13:10 PM »

The only other option that (to my knowledge) is not being considered is running an x35 bypass through eastern Austin and linking back in with 183 to create a short distance bypass of Downtown.  The land acquisition costs with that would probably be astronomical, but it would allow 35 to continue functioning as an interregional highway without forcing commercial traffic onto Toll 130.
So... let's demolish at least a thousand homes and tear a new freeway through East Austin in order to save some businesses that directly front an existing interstate alignment nearby from expansion. Got it.

Depends on the routing, as does everything.  The deleterious effects on the city of expanding an overhead viaduct or going with a surface/viaduct combo are far more consequential for Austin's future going forward than routing a 183-type overhead through east Austin.  I think the routing could go just south of Riverside and connect to 183 north of the airport, and 183 could be widened to accommodate.
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TheBox

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #295 on: September 02, 2021, 03:05:03 PM »

And then there's the whole "Don't California my Texas" thing, because of the state of concerns of it being the next California (which is inevitable) because of significant political differences, and income taxes potentially happening (replacing property taxes), and all these tech companies and Californian companies moving in (and as a result, farmland being taken away sooner than later).
« Last Edit: September 02, 2021, 03:10:26 PM by TheBox »
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thisdj78

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #296 on: September 02, 2021, 08:45:49 PM »

I-35 is not a local city street in Austin. It is a major arterial thoroughfare. Far more than just locals have to drive on it.

Austin should have some say in how an expanded Interstate 35 is configured running through their urban core.  The cut-and-cover or buried tunnel is the only option that works for all parties.  I'm not even in the "turn it into the Champs Elysees" camp, as there are far too many interrregional trucks using I-35 for that to make sense.  Converting Mopac to a boulevard makes more sense, because truck traffic is nil on that compared to I-35.  The only other option that (to my knowledge) is not being considered is running an x35 bypass through eastern Austin and linking back in with 183 to create a short distance bypass of Downtown.  The land acquisition costs with that would probably be astronomical, but it would allow 35 to continue functioning as an interregional highway without forcing commercial traffic onto Toll 130.

The “Bergstrom Express” just opened several months ago and acts as a downtown bypass. And with the new flyovers at 183/35….it’s free flowing all the way now:

https://www.183south.com/upload/files/183_Toll_Fact_Sheet_2021.pdf
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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #297 on: September 03, 2021, 09:27:09 AM »


The “Bergstrom Express” just opened several months ago and acts as a downtown bypass. And with the new flyovers at 183/35….it’s free flowing all the way now:

https://www.183south.com/upload/files/183_Toll_Fact_Sheet_2021.pdf

That's cool - I knew they were doing work over there but didn't know the extents of it.  To be a true bypass, it looks like it could use a connector headed southwest towards the I-35 and Ben White area, though.
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thisdj78

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #298 on: September 03, 2021, 10:38:01 AM »


The “Bergstrom Express” just opened several months ago and acts as a downtown bypass. And with the new flyovers at 183/35….it’s free flowing all the way now:

https://www.183south.com/upload/files/183_Toll_Fact_Sheet_2021.pdf

That's cool - I knew they were doing work over there but didn't know the extents of it.  To be a true bypass, it looks like it could use a connector headed southwest towards the I-35 and Ben White area, though.

There is now. They completely re-did the 183/71 interchange by the airport….takes you straight to 35 via 71:

Dropped pin
https://goo.gl/maps/fLTWcYQt9fpiYfFm7
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sprjus4

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Re: Austin, TX
« Reply #299 on: September 03, 2021, 12:39:18 PM »

^ The US-183 improvements were necessary, however re-routing I-35 onto that alignment would seriously cause more issues than help.
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