I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Going on holiday? Just returned with pictures or news? Found an interesting website? Post everything international in here.

Moderator: Site Management Team

User avatar
roadtester
Social Media Admin
Posts: 26482
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 18:05
Location: Cambridgeshire

I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by roadtester » Sat Nov 21, 2020 15:59

Thought people might find this article which cropped up in my Twitter feed the other day interesting.

While in many or even most places, doubts have crept in about the effectiveness of just adding capacity as a way of solving traffic problems, here the plan is to go from the current twelve lanes of capacity in the I-35 corridor through central Austin to a new total of up to twenty.

Other US cities have looked at options like dismantling, bypassing or burying these sorts of routes so that they don't scar communities by dividing them with acres of concrete but none of that sort of thinking seems to have permeated the mindset of the Texans!

https://austin.towers.net/widening-i-35 ... t-connect/
Electrophorus Electricus

User avatar
jackal
Member
Posts: 5904
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 23:33
Location: M6

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by jackal » Sat Nov 21, 2020 17:05

roadtester wrote:
Sat Nov 21, 2020 15:59
Other US cities have looked at options like dismantling, bypassing or burying these sorts of routes so that they don't scar communities by dividing them with acres of concrete but none of that sort of thinking seems to have permeated the mindset of the Texans!
One or two local distributors/loops have been dismantled but they're not 'these sorts of routes'. For major I-xx through routes the only solution that has been used in the US so far as I know is to add capacity, whether through widening, additional freeways, or both. 'Burying' is an atypical form of widening in the cases I'm aware of (e.g., Boston Big Dig and I-635 Dallas).

User avatar
Bryn666
Member
Posts: 29251
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by Bryn666 » Sat Nov 21, 2020 18:39

I've no idea why they're rushing to do this when the problem for traffic in Austin is there's no decent east-west routes across the centre of the city, yet there are three north-south freeway-ish corridors and a tolled bypass.

Am I missing something?
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/

User avatar
Truvelo
Member
Posts: 16190
Joined: Wed May 29, 2002 21:10
Location: Staffordshire
Contact:

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by Truvelo » Sat Nov 21, 2020 19:08

With zero chance of an central east west route being built I assume the north south routes within the area are taking up the slack and traffic can then use the east west routes further out to continue its onward journey.
How would you like your grade separations, Sir?
Big and complex.

User avatar
jackal
Member
Posts: 5904
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 23:33
Location: M6

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by jackal » Sat Nov 21, 2020 19:45

The missing link is really from the stub of US 290 at North Loop across across to Loop 1. The corridor is completely built up but only about 2.5 miles, so a good candidate for a bored tunnel I'd have thought. For all the incredible highway construction in Texas they don't really do bores - perhaps they wouldn't get the 'Texan discount' that surface freeways do.

User avatar
c2R
SABRE Wiki admin
Posts: 9055
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2002 11:01

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by c2R » Mon Nov 23, 2020 09:02

What's the AADT around the bypass? Is this just like the example of the M6Toll at Birmingham where people simply aren't paying, or is it all local traffic?
Are you feeling bored? Wiki: Things to do - Join the Great C Road Hunt

User avatar
Bryn666
Member
Posts: 29251
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by Bryn666 » Mon Nov 23, 2020 13:55

c2R wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 09:02
What's the AADT around the bypass? Is this just like the example of the M6Toll at Birmingham where people simply aren't paying, or is it all local traffic?
My understanding is Texans, used to very low gas prices and therefore insulated from the real costs of driving, find toll roads unpalatable. It's out of state drivers that seem to use them. Despite having the highest posted speed limit in the USA (85 mph), the operators filed for Ch 11 bankruptcy in the early 2010s due to low traffic volumes.
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/

User avatar
jackal
Member
Posts: 5904
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 23:33
Location: M6

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by jackal » Mon Nov 23, 2020 19:04

TxDOT provide some excellent transport planning maps, e.g.:

https://txdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/weba ... af0958f5f0

From this you have the following AADTs (doesn't seem to include service roads):

I-35 south of US 290/SH 69: 236,000 (busiest part)
Loop 1 south of US 183: 190,000 (busiest part of western bypass)
US 290 west of I-35: 186,000 (busiest part of southern bypass)
US 183 east of I-35: 89,000 (busiest part of eastern bypass)
SH 130 north of US 45: 78,000 (busiest part of outer eastern bypass)

Aside from the toll issue it's simply longer to use a bypass to get from I-35 to I-35, and the vast majority of I-35 traffic will be heading to or from the city in any case.

PS - the highest number I saw was 387,769 on the I-10 west of Houston.

User avatar
c2R
SABRE Wiki admin
Posts: 9055
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2002 11:01

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by c2R » Tue Nov 24, 2020 09:58

That map is pretty good stuff, yes.

I suppose the point is around the percentage of through traffic that is travelling through the middle of the built up area rather than around because of the toll - it may be slightly further, but most bypasses are - for example, I try and avoid the M6 at Birmingham by taking the A50 instead- it's further, but it's faster than travelling through the middle of Birmingham at peak hours. If the M6Toll were free, I'd use that instead as that would avoid Stoke - but I'm not forking out the cost for that.

There must be countless similar journeys made every day that use the same rationale - so should we be widening the A50 through Stoke, and should we have increased capacity on the M6 through Birmingham when an alternative strategy would be to buy out the M6Toll concession and see what happens to regional traffic patterns then.

The same may be true for Austin - although, if most of the joruenys start and or end in Austin it may not be - and, of course, the road isn't severing the communities in the same way as it would do in Europe anyway - here's a random streetview of a residential area from just by the motorway - conspicuous in its absence are any pavements or other pedestrian facilities
https://www.google.com/maps/@30.2919357 ... 384!8i8192
Are you feeling bored? Wiki: Things to do - Join the Great C Road Hunt

User avatar
Bryn666
Member
Posts: 29251
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by Bryn666 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:45

jackal wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 19:04
TxDOT provide some excellent transport planning maps, e.g.:

https://txdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/weba ... af0958f5f0

From this you have the following AADTs (doesn't seem to include service roads):

I-35 south of US 290/SH 69: 236,000 (busiest part)
Loop 1 south of US 183: 190,000 (busiest part of western bypass)
US 290 west of I-35: 186,000 (busiest part of southern bypass)
US 183 east of I-35: 89,000 (busiest part of eastern bypass)
SH 130 north of US 45: 78,000 (busiest part of outer eastern bypass)

Aside from the toll issue it's simply longer to use a bypass to get from I-35 to I-35, and the vast majority of I-35 traffic will be heading to or from the city in any case.

PS - the highest number I saw was 387,769 on the I-10 west of Houston.
The real question now is how many of those journeys start and end in Austin - although good luck convincing anyone to ride a bike for long distances in constant summer 30C+ temperatures, even though they've got more cycle infrastructure here than several British cities: https://goo.gl/maps/8bkAuHeaGNeVSt1D9
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/

User avatar
jackal
Member
Posts: 5904
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 23:33
Location: M6

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by jackal » Tue Nov 24, 2020 13:52

Taking a bypass around Austin is not really comparable to taking the M6 toll in preference to the M6. The Austin bypasses add 10-15 miles whereas the M6T is essentially the same length as the equivalent M6. Even the M1+A50+A500 is only about 4 miles or 5% longer than the M6 route, whereas the Austin bypasses are 20%+ longer. They have minimal potential for I-35 to I-35 journeys.

It's a quirky British perspective on things to imagine that through journeys should use a much longer orbital route, derived from the lack of high quality radials in most UK cities. There's not really cause for the Texans to abide by it.

User avatar
c2R
SABRE Wiki admin
Posts: 9055
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2002 11:01

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by c2R » Tue Nov 24, 2020 14:43

jackal wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 13:52
Taking a bypass around Austin is not really comparable to taking the M6 toll in preference to the M6. The Austin bypasses add 10-15 miles whereas the M6T is essentially the same length as the equivalent M6. Even the M1+A50+A500 is only about 4 miles or 5% longer than the M6 route, whereas the Austin bypasses are 20%+ longer. They have minimal potential for I-35 to I-35 journeys.

It's a quirky British perspective on things to imagine that through journeys should use a much longer orbital route, derived from the lack of high quality radials in most UK cities. There's not really cause for the Texans to abide by it.
No, it's what most of the world does... It's madness to drive the shortest route despite there being a myriad of junctions and a massive urban centre in the way or to build roads for strategic traffic next to where people live.

Did you know that it is 33% further to travel round Dublin on the M50 than it is to go through the centre... however, nobody in their right mind would do that. Or, if you want an example where the choices are between roads of motorway standards,if you wanted to travel from Duisburg to Dortmund,you wouldn't use the A40 with all its exits and traffic, you'd bypass the lot using the A42 despite it being further, as the bypasses are easier routes to drive as a result of having lower traffic density.

Similarly, if you're looking to cater for through traffic, it's much cheaper to do so by building a bypass, why do you think that the French are bypassing their cities with new motorways to replace the older ones that go near/through urban areas?
Are you feeling bored? Wiki: Things to do - Join the Great C Road Hunt

User avatar
Truvelo
Member
Posts: 16190
Joined: Wed May 29, 2002 21:10
Location: Staffordshire
Contact:

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by Truvelo » Tue Nov 24, 2020 15:37

Yeah, I have driven straight through many American cities at what you would consider to be off peak times as the orbital route is either circuitous or tolled only to hit a queue of stationary traffic. Chicago in particular is just not worth going through the centre unless it's 2am in the morning. Just pay the £10 or so in tolls to drive the 5 miles extra and avoid wasting the same amount in fuel by trying to shunpike.
How would you like your grade separations, Sir?
Big and complex.

User avatar
jackal
Member
Posts: 5904
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 23:33
Location: M6

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by jackal » Tue Nov 24, 2020 15:53

c2R wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 14:43
No, it's what most of the world does... It's madness to drive the shortest route despite there being a myriad of junctions and a massive urban centre in the way or to build roads for strategic traffic next to where people live.

Did you know that it is 33% further to travel round Dublin on the M50 than it is to go through the centre... however, nobody in their right mind would do that. Or, if you want an example where the choices are between roads of motorway standards,if you wanted to travel from Duisburg to Dortmund,you wouldn't use the A40 with all its exits and traffic, you'd bypass the lot using the A42 despite it being further, as the bypasses are easier routes to drive as a result of having lower traffic density.

Similarly, if you're looking to cater for through traffic, it's much cheaper to do so by building a bypass, why do you think that the French are bypassing their cities with new motorways to replace the older ones that go near/through urban areas?
Weird use of examples there. Dublin doesn't have a motorway through the middle, so it's similar to British cities in that respect. And if you were going from Duisberg to Dortmund you would typically use the A40, just as you'd stay on the I-35 to get from San Marcos to Temple.

Obviously bypasses have their uses. My point is that they are not the answer to every problem.

Do you really think the Texans need enlightenment from the British, Irish or French about the value of bypasses? No, they're way ahead of us on that, but in this case it would be a round peg in a square hole.

User avatar
c2R
SABRE Wiki admin
Posts: 9055
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2002 11:01

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by c2R » Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:14

jackal wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 15:53
And if you were going from Duisberg to Dortmund you would typically use the A40,
Both Google (with real time traffic data), and I (with years of experience of driving around NRW) would disagree with you on that one. The A40 is like an urban car park, with many entrances and exits, and traffic jams for much of the length.

The A42 acts as a bypass for inter-city traffic in the region, being much faster, while strategic traffic is routed via the A2. This model is far more logical than driving strategic traffic through the middle of a city, because it is the shortest way between two points.
Are you feeling bored? Wiki: Things to do - Join the Great C Road Hunt

User avatar
jackal
Member
Posts: 5904
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 23:33
Location: M6

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by jackal » Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:32

c2R wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:14
jackal wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 15:53
And if you were going from Duisberg to Dortmund you would typically use the A40,
Both Google (with real time traffic data), and I (with years of experience of driving around NRW) would disagree with you on that one.
Duisberg to Dortmund - Copy.JPG
It's close, to be fair, but this is peak time. Offpeak the A40 would certainly be quicker.
c2R wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:14
This model is far more logical than driving strategic traffic through the middle of a city, because it is the shortest way between two points.
Precisely the doctrinaire error that I'm criticising. You should be sensitive to the circumstances, not impose a one-size-fits-all dictate.

User avatar
c2R
SABRE Wiki admin
Posts: 9055
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2002 11:01

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by c2R » Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:45

jackal wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:32
c2R wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:14
jackal wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 15:53
And if you were going from Duisberg to Dortmund you would typically use the A40,
Both Google (with real time traffic data), and I (with years of experience of driving around NRW) would disagree with you on that one.
Duisberg to Dortmund - Copy.JPG

It's close, to be fair, but this is peak time. Offpeak the A40 would certainly be quicker.
Interesting - google has changed its mind for me also now; trust it to take into account current traffic when I'm trying to use it to prove a point! I think unless it was well outside peak, I'd still use the A42 because there is better journey reliability. Or, I might use the A2 as there's no speed limit on that section since it was widened to D3M...
Are you feeling bored? Wiki: Things to do - Join the Great C Road Hunt

User avatar
Bryn666
Member
Posts: 29251
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by Bryn666 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 20:46

c2R wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:45
jackal wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:32
c2R wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:14

Both Google (with real time traffic data), and I (with years of experience of driving around NRW) would disagree with you on that one.
Duisberg to Dortmund - Copy.JPG

It's close, to be fair, but this is peak time. Offpeak the A40 would certainly be quicker.
Interesting - google has changed its mind for me also now; trust it to take into account current traffic when I'm trying to use it to prove a point! I think unless it was well outside peak, I'd still use the A42 because there is better journey reliability. Or, I might use the A2 as there's no speed limit on that section since it was widened to D3M...
We're in the middle of a pandemic, using traffic volumes this year to prove anything is futile. You need data from last year really.
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/

User avatar
roadtester
Social Media Admin
Posts: 26482
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 18:05
Location: Cambridgeshire

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by roadtester » Tue Nov 24, 2020 20:50

Step back from the discussion about which of these three motorway routes is the best and look at the big picture about what this says about infrastructure investment in Germany.

How many even vaguely comparable journeys are there in the UK which offer three separate, all pretty decent motorway-all-the-way options?
Electrophorus Electricus

User avatar
Bryn666
Member
Posts: 29251
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: I-35 - 20 lanes wide through downtown Austin, TX

Post by Bryn666 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 20:54

Bearing in mind the US hasn't restricted travel the same way as Europe, Google currently suggests it will take 65 minutes to travel from I-35 Exit 233A which links to TX-130 north to Exit 265, where TX-130 merges back in.

If you take the 15 mile longer route, and pay the toll, right now you'll save 6 minutes.

The congestion in central Austin appears to be due to city to city movements, so where is this traffic going when it leaves the freeway? Into congested city streets.
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/

Post Reply