TxDOT discusses plans to reconfigure I-35 exit ramps - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

TxDOT discusses plans to reconfigure I-35 exit ramps

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More than 100 people attended a neighborhood association meeting Monday night, including city council member Kathie Tovo and reps with TxDOT.

They stressed to the crowd all of their suggestions are preliminary and subject to change. The group made it known they were not happy to hear about the proposal to close the Woodland Avenue ramp onto I-35.

TxDOT reps were quick to mention to other alternatives, including reconnecting woodland over I-35 or slightly changing the curvature of I-35 and pretty much leaving Woodland the way it is today.

Increased traffic capacity, improved east-to-west connectivity and more neighborhood compatibility.

These are the goals of the I-35 Capital Area Improvement Program.

"Some of these things are not good for the community. Listen to the people," said one resident.

Another added, "You're creating more traffic. You're not making things easier."

For a majority of the residents living in the project corridor, TxDOT's proposal to "reconfigure ramps" sounds like anything but an improvement.

"Our elementary schools, our middle schools, our high schools are west of I-35 and yet a large number of our families live east of I-35," said Carol Martin, with the South River City Citizens Neighborhood Association.

Martin said, "Woodland is our neighborhood connectivity."

She's one of many who attended a city planning and transportation committee meeting, where TxDOT proposed to close the ramp at Woodland Avenue.

"I've stood on the street corner handing out flyers, in the morning, to people during rush hour traffic and I've yet to hear one person that thinks it's a good idea to do that," said another resident.

Residents took turns voicing their concerns to city council members and TxDOT.

"It is a segregation of east and west again because our neighborhood is actually part of west Travis Heights, we're east Travis Heights. The kids go to school in west Travis Heights. I swim at Stacy Pool. It would be really, seriously difficult for us to either go Oltorf and Riverside and cross through three lanes of traffic," said Dr. Martina Bluem.

She says TxDOT could do a better job of including the public.

"It was sort of sprung on us I think because I really haven't heard about it and I'm very active in the community," said Bluem.

Robert Spillar, with the I-35 Capital Area Improvement Program, said, "We went out to the public with blank maps and blank photographs and asked for input on, on the issues."

Bluem added, "I really just found out about Woodland closure last week, when my neighbor told me."

Another resident added, "It's been a lack of inclusion. You should have had a lot more people, people of color over here, stating their concerns."

"As communities become aware of issues, we encourage to continue to speak up," said Spillar.

TxDOT reps add this phase of the improvement program is still early and even if a decision was made, they don't yet have the funding to start construction.

Austin city councilmembers holding the planning and transportation meeting pressed TxDOT to come up with a more specific timeline for when possible decsions could be made, so that residents can fully be involved in the process.

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