According to a recent study by The Daily Beast and traffic services company INRIX, Austin has the fourth worst commute in the nation. They discovered that commuters experience most of this frustration on I-35 with the worst bottleneck being Northbound around Riverside Drive.
Kara Kockelman, professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering and UT traffic expert, attributes heavy traffic on the downtown portion of I-35 to a combination of geography and design.
“It’s very unusual to have a major travel corridor interstate that close to the heart of a significant metro region,” Kockelman said.
The Texas Triangle, encompassing Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, is a heavily traveled region. When combined with downtown rush-hour traffic, conditions throughout the five metro areas can be disastrous, she said.
The double-deck solution to the I-35 traffic problem makes the highway even more accident prone, Kockelman added. With fewer lane choices, drivers find difficulty maneuvering around accidents — and avoiding them. The interstate’s short, “slip” ramps terminate in deadly concrete pillars and leave drivers little merge and weave space.