I-35

Friday was the first time I traveled Interstate 35 between Dallas and Austin, in daylight, in at least 10 years. The normal traffic on I-35 was like I-45 on a busy traveling holiday.

That road’s total right of way seems to be relatively narrow. There is usually only a tiny median between the northbound and southbound inside shoulders. This means that a single careless error can hurdle your 80 MPH car into 80 MPH oncoming traffic. Let’s see, 80 MPH + 80 MPH = really nasty.

In part due to these minimal center medians, TxDOT is erecting stout center barriers on long stretches of I-35. Since most of this wall is new, you can clearly see every impact on it. On one multi-mile stretch I was amazed to see several tire tracks clearly veering into the wall and then bouncing back off. Most of the time the errant vehicle appears to settle in the left shoulder. Sometimes the errant vehicle hits the wall and careens the other way, crossing both lanes and probably running off the right shoulder. Very often the tire marks were of an axle with double wheels on both sides, like with a 18 wheeler or a dually truck.

This barrier upgrade makes I-35 generally superior to German Autobahns. You gotta wonder why the Texas Legislature still arbitrarily caps speed limits at 70 MPH?

At least two small towns had interesting interchanges with I-35 and their main road. Basically I-35 was an underpass in a small canyon that was only wide enough for 2 lanes each way. It looks like this 1950s shot of I-35 in Austin. This kind of interchange is at home on an older US highway, not on the busiest interstate corridor in Texas! When it comes time to widen the roadway, these cities may be in for a surprise.

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