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Author Topic: I -35 expansion plans in Austin  (Read 5121 times)

longhorn

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MaxConcrete

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2015, 05:06:19 PM »

Once again, Austin thinks and builds small-scale when it needs much, much more. Adding one lane in each direction? Really? That section needs to be built like Houston's I-10 Katy Freeway or the DFW Connector in North Texas, with at least 10 main lanes and four managed lanes. There are some right-of-way difficulties, but there have been plans in the past which added much more capacity, for a total of six lanes each way.

And I'm also wondering how they plan to add the extra lane on the elevated structure. It sounds like they are just going to make the shoulder a travel lane. I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures, but once again this is trading one problem for another (no shoulder = potential for big disruptions when vehicles stall, less safe roadway, especially on the long elevated structure with no way out.)
 
 

lordsutch

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2015, 05:18:35 PM »

The plan is to add two lanes in each direction, one free and one tolled (managed).

As for taking over the shoulders, the advantages of shoulder running seem to outweigh the disadvantages, since you're trading several thousand vph of extra capacity for an occasional big disruption that having the shoulder would have averted. People involved in the small fender-benders that would have pulled over immediately will just have to get off at an exit or an accident investigation site; the serious crashes inevitably close most or all of the lanes, shoulder or no shoulder.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2015, 06:26:46 PM »

The plan is to add two lanes in each direction, one free and one tolled (managed).

Yes, you are correct based on the article text. But the graphic says "If a toll lane is added later, it would be on the lower level." That will be difficult due to the horrible geometrics and limited space on the lower level. That will require about 24 feet on each side for the lane plus shoulder (there is no interior shoulder), and they will need to maintain some auxiliary/merging lanes due to the dangerous on-ramps. I don't know if that will fit between the elevated structure columns. But if they are going to violate design standards, I can see them narrowing the lanes to 11 feet and omitting the interior shoulder. The graphic also does not mention the toll lane in the proposed downtown sunken section, although it is reasonable to assume the main article text is valid.

Anthony_JK

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2015, 01:36:34 AM »

Given all that, wouldn't it be cheaper to just divert I-35 traffic to SH 45S and SH 130 as a bypass? What happened to the plan to remove the tolls on those sections and make them "free" highways? Or, even include SH 45S west of I-35, MoPac, and US 181?
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longhorn

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2015, 09:47:57 AM »

I-35 will never be rebuilt like I-10 in Katy or DFW connector because of the tree huggers in Austin. They are the reason Austin is so behind in freeway expansion in the first place.

In the perfect world, I-35 would be rerouted onto the toll road around Austin, but that idea never gained traction for some reason. Next best thing would be to rebuild I-35 from 183 to Ben White with 5 lanes on each side sunken through downtown. That's a pipe dream too.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2015, 10:12:52 AM »

Given all that, wouldn't it be cheaper to just divert I-35 traffic to SH 45S and SH 130 as a bypass? What happened to the plan to remove the tolls on those sections and make them "free" highways? Or, even include SH 45S west of I-35, MoPac, and US 181?

One of the new laws coming out of the just-completed legislative session is a bill which requires TxDOT to provide a report to the legislature in 2017 about the cost of turning all state-owned toll roads into freeways. That would include SH 130 and SH 45 in Austin (but excludes all toll roads in North Texas and everything in Houston except the Grand Parkway). So I'm thinking nothing is going to happen on the idea of turning SH 130 into a freeway until that cost report is presented to the legislature, probably sometime in late 2016.
 
 

SquonkHunter

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2015, 11:59:17 AM »

I-35 will never be rebuilt like I-10 in Katy or DFW connector because of the tree huggers in Austin. They are the reason Austin is so behind in freeway expansion in the first place.

In the perfect world, I-35 would be rerouted onto the toll road around Austin, but that idea never gained traction for some reason. Next best thing would be to rebuild I-35 from 183 to Ben White with 5 lanes on each side sunken through downtown. That's a pipe dream too.

The best solution to I-35 thru Austin would be a clone of US 75/North Central Expressway in Dallas. Set in a trench below grade the entire length with cantilevered access roads. It would be expensive and take forever to build but it would get the job done, be much less of an eyesore and would remove the "wall" effect between neighborhoods. But, this being Austin, it will never be done.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2015, 05:29:07 PM »

The best solution to I-35 thru Austin would be a clone of US 75/North Central Expressway in Dallas. Set in a trench below grade the entire length with cantilevered access roads.

Actually, that was the recommended design of a study in the early 2000s. For the section with the existing elevated lanes, the main lanes were to be sunk into a trench with six general-purpose (toll-free) lanes in each direction, 12 total. The existing elevated structures were slated to be removed and replaced with a single elevated structure in the middle of the freeway with at least two reversible HOT lanes. Frontage roads would have been cantilevered over the trenched main lanes, especially where right-of-way is tight near the cemetery. In the downtown area the plan included collector distributor facilities on both sides, with a minimum of six total lanes in each direction.

Obviously that recommendation went nowhere.
 

Sykotyk

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2015, 05:59:27 PM »

I hate the stretch of I-35 from about Georgetown down to south of San Antonio. One of the worst freeways in America... and that's a surprise because I-95 from south of DC through New Haven, CT is also up there on my hate list.

If you want to remove traffic, put it over onto the toll road bypass, remove the tolls, and sign it as I-35. Make old I-35 an AET toll road through Austin. That will really take care of traffic. No through traffic will go through the city, and the people who want to use the road into Austin will still use it.

There's a reason truck traffic is underutilized on the toll bypass. It's cheaper for most to just stick with the heavy traffic through town. Even if it adds time to their trips.
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SquonkHunter

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2015, 12:26:36 PM »

The best solution to I-35 thru Austin would be a clone of US 75/North Central Expressway in Dallas. Set in a trench below grade the entire length with cantilevered access roads.

Actually, that was the recommended design of a study in the early 2000s. For the section with the existing elevated lanes, the main lanes were to be sunk into a trench with six general-purpose (toll-free) lanes in each direction, 12 total. The existing elevated structures were slated to be removed and replaced with a single elevated structure in the middle of the freeway with at least two reversible HOT lanes. Frontage roads would have been cantilevered over the trenched main lanes, especially where right-of-way is tight near the cemetery. In the downtown area the plan included collector distributor facilities on both sides, with a minimum of six total lanes in each direction.

Obviously that recommendation went nowhere.

Yep. It's Austin, after all. It took Dallas a generation to even agree on what to do with North Central. Once they did finally agree on a plan, it turned out pretty good in the end. Just took forever to get it done. And that was in a city that prides itself on getting things done. Austin, on the other hand, prides itself on not getting things done.  :rolleyes:
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formulanone

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2015, 07:07:51 PM »

The insistence on keeping frontage roads makes any multi-lane freeway expansion next to impossible, and having exits every mile apart doesn't speed up overall traffic flow, regardless of how many "tree-huggers" there are in the area.

dfwmapper

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Re: I -35 expansion plans in Austin
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2015, 11:44:19 PM »

Removing frontage roads is basically impossible. Texas has extremely strong laws regarding property access rights, and attempting to remove that access would basically require the state to purchase all affected property, which would be expensive and probably never make it past objections at the proposal stage, much less an EIS and further approvals.
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