Breaking News from TxDOT: I-35 Traffic Sucks
Releasing its eagerly awaited yearly report of the 100 most congested stretches of road in the Lone Star State, the Texas Department of Transportation has news that should make Austin drivers proud. The stretch of I-35 form Highway 71 to US 183 has held on to the fourth spot in the annual rankings. Surprisingly, County Road 103 in Colorado County didn’t make the cut.
While some might be disappointed that I-35 in Austin didn’t rise in the rankings, its stats did increase from the previous year. Drivers now waste a total of 4.6 million hours of delay per annum while the annual cost of these delays hovers around $114 million. Imagine all of the three-day ACL passes that money could buy.
Of course TxDOT knows that these numbers really aren’t a revelation to Texas drivers. They serve the purpose of knowing exactly where the problems lie and deciding on how to mitigate them. The report also includes suggested tactics to alleviate congestion.
Plans that are already in motion include operational improvements such as increased bus service along frontage roads and more Metrorail, Urban Rail and Lone Star Rail Services. The more ambitious plans are, at the moment, only “Recommendations for Future Improvements”. They include reconstruction of stretches of Loop 1 and I-35 to add HOT (high-occupancy/toll) lanes, but since they lack funding for now they estimate these projects would only be ready to build by 2020 if the money comes through.
It’s hard to see more than $2.2 billion being dropped for a project of this magnitude, but if the State Legislature had the gumption to require TxDOT to create this “Top 100” list in the first place in 2009, then by God what’s to stop them from taking the initiative again?
While most may see this massive congestion on I-35 as a major plight that can threaten Austin’s commerce and environmental standards, why shouldn’t it be seen as the chance to foster a little inter-city competition? Dallas seems to have a lockdown on the top three spots with US 75, IH 635 and SS 366 leading the pack. Austin needs to strive for the chance to come out on top. If Austin is in the “Top 10” in practically every ranking imaginable, why not go for the gold in one more list?
Here’s one guaranteed way to increase I-35 congestion. Limit it to one lane through the city limits and fill the rest of them with parked food trailers.