A Piece in the IH-35 Traffic Puzzle:
The Austin - San Antonio Commuter Rail
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
April 7, 2005
Almost 3 million people living along the Corridor between Georgetown and San Antonio depend on Interstate Highway 35 (IH 35) as a major thoroughfare.
By the year 2020, the population along this 110 mile stretch of highway is expected to nearly double. In addition, 80% of Mexico's trade with the United States and Canada passes through Texas, 75% by truck, using IH 35 as a primary route. This $370 billion in trade is expected to double by the year 2010.
Along the entire 1700 mile stretch of IH 35 from Mexico to Canada, the highest levels of fatalities, the worst congestion, the slowest average speed per mile, the lowest levels of service, and the most air pollution occur in the Austin-San Antonio Corridor (FHWA study, 1999).
The Austin-San Antonio Commuter Rail District, a regional entity, is working with communities along the Corridor to address these issues by:
- Determining the feasibility of commuter rail passenger service within the existing Union Pacific Corridor that parallels IH 35 between Georgetown and San Antonio. Regularly scheduled passenger trains would stop at a number of stations between Georgetown and San Antonio. The service would connect the internal transit and transportation systems of Austin, San Antonio and other Corridor cities to take passengers to their desired locations.
- Shifting some of Union Pacific's through-freight operation into a new, more efficient corridor east of State Highway 130, now under construction to the east of IH 35.
In this early stage, the Rail District is:
Informing the communities along the Corridor and seeking input on the project
- Studying the feasibility of commuter rail
- Evaluating the costs and benefits of passenger rail service
- Coordinating with Union Pacific
- Developing project funding alternatives
- Developing a preliminary work plan
Passenger rail service will enable people to travel freely between all communities in the Corridor, whether your trip takes you from Round Rock to Austin, Austin to San Marcos, San Marcos to New Braunfels, or New Braunfels to San Antonio.
As the Bexar County representative to the Commuter Rail District, I intend to keep you apprised of the activities of this important tool to tame the traffic on I-35. We should not be found "behind the power curve" of our increasing traffic on this truly international corridor. Your thoughts or questions about how it is developed are always welcome!