Possible HAZMAT routes proposed for Austin

City of Austin officials are asking for public comment on routes for trucks carrying non-radioactive hazardous materials.

Austin has been working to identify specific routes for trucks carrying non-radioactive hazardous materials. This is so if a truck crashes, the city can minimize the risk by diverting those trucks from densely populated areas and areas that are environmentally sensitive.

To see proposed routes, click here.

On Tuesday, the Austin Transportation Department held an open house to show what routes they’ve come up with so far. After going through factors like population density, number of crashes and environmental concerns on each road in Austin, they came up with these possible routes.

One of those would be a tolled route that would use SH 130. It would direct trucks away from I-35 downtown.

Another, non-tolled route, would direct traffic to MoPac instead.

That’s something Roy Waley with the Sierra Club says he doesn’t want.

“We are concerned about anything environmental,” Waley said.

Waley went to the open house Tuesday to learn more about the routes. He says he’d rather the trucks go on 130 and just accept the cost.

A trucking industry advocate was also there, and he says you can’t just require trucks to take a toll road. The advocate said he also doesn’t like the idea of I-35 being closed off to trucks.

“It’s one of our most dense corridors,” Jim Dale with the Austin Transportation Department said.

Dale says that feedback is what they want from these open houses because nothing has been decided yet.

“We want feedback on that to influence the direction that we go into next,” Dale said.

The routes still have more public comment period, then it would go to council, then TXDOT and if approved it wouldn’t go into effect until possibly early 2019.

Dale also explained why MoPac is being considered as a route even though it goes over the Edwards Aquifer.

“It’s not just the environment we’re looking at, we’re looking at a number of different factors and then comparing that across potential corridors for through traffic,” Dale said.

Still Waley says some environmental impacts are irreversible.

“It has the potential to have a huge impact on so many of us,” Waley said.