AUSTIN (KXAN) — A regional transportation policy board voted against a proposal from several Austin City Council delegates Monday to delay funding on the upcoming Interstate 35 expansion until additional environmental studies are completed.

The majority of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s transportation policy board opposed the recommendation made during Monday’s board meeting. Board members and council delegates Alison Alter, Paige Ellis, Vanessa Fuentes and Natasha Harper-Madison supported the measure, with an additional vote in favor of the proposal from Travis County board representative Amy Pattillo.

The Texas Department of Transportation’s I-35 Capital Express Central project is a $4.5 billion, eight-mile long project corridor set to begin construction later this year. Council delegates’ resolution requested the delay with the hopes of completing additional air quality studies prior to construction’s start.

Along with those studies, the resolution proposed TxDOT’s acceleration of other regional projects across the region that had funding deferred to prioritize the I-35 expansion project. With that request, council delegates had asked TxDOT to aid in those funding efforts as well as “funding to cover the remaining costs of the associated planning, design, and construction costs of I-35 caps,” an ongoing city-funded initiative running concurrent with TxDOT’s project.

Monday’s meeting included dozens of public comments from community members, with the majority of those speaking opposed to the project on the grounds of pollution concerns. Austin City Council Member Paige Ellis, a delegate to the CAMPO board, urged fellow board members to take those same concerns seriously.

“I’m just trying to do my part to make sure that, at the end of the day, I can say I did everything I could to make sure that we’re taking proper data and taking the time to make sure that if there’s anything else that can be added to this project to make it better for the people who interact and live and work near this particular expansion, that we ask for everything that we possibly can,” she said.

TxDOT’s Austin District Engineer Tucker Ferguson, also a member of the CAMPO board, said his agency will continue advancing these studies and add any findings or recommendations to the expansion project where possible.

Board Member Jeff Travillion noted the significance of those air quality studies and analyses, but also said the highway is in desperate need of an upgrade to alleviate the safety concerns affiliated with it.

“Significant improvements are necessary, just for safety’s sake,” he said. “You can’t drive through the City of Austin on 35 and think that’s safe. It’s not. It was built for a time that’s no longer here.”

Following the failure of the Austin delegation’s proposal, the majority of CAMPO’s transportation policy board approved the draft 2025-28 Transportation Improvement Program and a related amendment to the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan. Those plans, non-amended, outline regional funding allocations to the I-35 central expansion plan.