About Us

Make a Donation
Local • Independent • Essential News
Photo by Nina Hernandez

Three City Council members join “Wider Won’t Work” rally against I-35 expansion

Monday, November 6, 2023 by Nina Hernandez

Three City Council members spoke Sunday at the Rethink35 “Wider Won’t Work” rally against the Interstate 35 Capital Express project.

Those in attendance at Sanchez Elementary School included Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis, who is chair of Council’s Mobility Committee, as well as Council members José Velásquez and Zo Qadri. The speaker lineup also featured Save Our Springs Alliance Executive Director Bill Bunch, former state Rep. Celia Israel and U.S. Rep. Greg Casar.

U.S. Rep. Greg Casar, Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis, and Council members Zo Qadri and Jose Velásquez attended the rally

Velásquez, who represents the east side’s District 3, said, “We saw the Great Wall of Austin come up, and I can’t wait to see the Great Wall of Austin come down.”

In the meantime, Velásquez urged further public pressure and engagement on the details of the expansion project. The city is still currently working with the Texas Department of Transportation to maximize the cap-and-stitch solutions that are intended to ease impacts and make the highway less dangerous for pedestrians.

In her remarks, Ellis noted that she is also a member of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Policy Board, which voted in August to approve the latest version of the project.

“We have support from our local CAMPO delegation, but it’s not enough,” Ellis said. “There are other people that serve on that board that need to hear your voices. So make sure that is what you take out of today. You need to email everyone on the CAMPO board and tell them that you want them to fight for our future.”

Bunch praised Ellis, Qadri and Velásquez for appearing at the protest, but he urged the rest of Council to join the effort.

“Our planet is at a tipping point. Our community is at a tipping point. And we have to fight this to the bitter end. I’m so excited to see Council Members Qadri, Velásquez and Ellis here today, but we need the rest of the City Council and Mayor (Kirk) Watson with us. We need (County) Judge Andy Brown and the entire Travis County Commissioners Court with us.”

He continued: “And it’s a great day here on the grounds of Sanchez Elementary School. We need the Austin school board with us. And we need their names as co-plaintiffs with the community when we file that lawsuit in federal court. And they are reluctant to do that. They are going to tell you that their hands are tied. That TxDOT gets to be the investigator, the lawyer, the judge and the jury in deciding that this is the right thing to do. And that is not the law.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation can intervene and tell TxDOT it was incorrect in its analysis of the impacts of the expansion on the environment.

“They can stop this project and demand that we have honest studies,” Bunch said.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

You're a community leader

And we’re honored you look to us for serious, in-depth news. You know a strong community needs local and dedicated watchdog reporting. We’re here for you and that won’t change. Now will you take the powerful next step and support our nonprofit news organization?

Back to Top