Rethink35 is an all-volunteer grassroots campaign aimed at stopping the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plan to expand I-35 in Austin, and recruiting support to explore alternative community proposals.
Rethink35 is fiscally sponsored by AURA, a 501c4 organization. We receive much of our funding from donations. Learn more about how to donate or become a Rethink35 Member.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click to expand each question
+ Wouldn't expanding I-35 help reduce traffic?
Expanding I-35 would not reduce traffic. Widening highways worsens congestion by encouraging more driving, a phenomenon known as “induced demand”.
When Houston’s Katy Freeway was widened to 23 lanes, evening commutes got 19 minutes longer. In fact, of the U.S. cities where freeways were expanded, congestion increased by 144 percent - outpacing their population growth.
+ Today's I-35 is terrible. Don't you want to fix it?
By opposing TxDOT's I-35 expansion plans, we are not asking to leave it as-is. When I-35 was built through Austin, it split the city in half with a dangerous, polluting highway. We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform one of the most valuable spaces in our city. The City of Austin and State of Texas should rethink the expansion and consider alternative proposals to re-connect our city.
TxDOT's I-35 expansion proposal will exacerbate the problems with today's highway - not fix them.
+ If we remove I-35 through Austin, where will the traffic go?
When surveyed, 70% of Austinites would prefer to to get around Austin in ways other than driving. Replacing the current I-35 footprint with an at-grade boulevard would would reconnect the street grid and increase access for mass transit, pedestrians, and cyclists. A boulevard would eliminate dangerous highway off-ramps, merges, and other choke points that cause highway congestion.
Routing major highways around town - not through it - is not only the norm across the US, but it’s the norm in Texas. Non-local traffic can either continue on the highway around town, or choose to take the business route / boulevard through town.
In 2020, Austin voters overwhelmingly approved the $7 billion Project Connect project, which will expand transit options throughout the Austin area, including rapid bus lanes, light rail, and subway lines.
+ What actions are you taking to oppose TxDOT’s I-35 expansion plans?
Right now, our goal is to convince local leaders to demand a study that examines a variety of community-proposed alternatives. Our proposed alternative is a "highway to boulevard conversion" - something that has been extremely successful in numerous cities.
In June 2022, Rethink35 - along with the organizations Environment Texas and Texas PIRG - sued TxDOT, alleging that they are skirting more rigorous environmental review by breaking up the Capital Express widening project into three separate projects.