Austin

Area under Ben White Blvd. will be transformed into transit center

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Construction on the Westgate Transit Center and Park and Ride is scheduled to begin toward the end of summer and will transform the area underneath Ben White Boulevard between Manchaca Road and Pack Saddle Pass — directly across from Target — into a mobility hub. 

Capital Metro and the Texas Department of Transportation have been collaborating on the project for the past 10 years.

CapMetro's director of Service Planning, Roberto Gonzalez, says the mobility hub will bring a variety of transit options to one spot, including allowing drivers to park their car and jump on the bus.

"Mobility hub is the concept of bringing together forms of services so people can get around the community," explains Gonzalez. "It can be improving access for those that walk, access for those that bike, allowing car share mobility, bike share and, of course, the confluence of transit."

Another hope for the mobility hub is that it would entice south Austin residents to consider public transit, like the MetroRapid, into downtown instead of driving every day.

The park and ride portion would offer around 200 parking spaces, plus provide a bus driver-only restroom to assist drivers in staying on schedule.

Currently, the area is a popular spot for people who are homeless to set up shelter. 

Pastor Mark Hilbelink of Sunrise Community Church thinks the mobility hub is a mixed bag. It might displace some of them, but will be beneficial overall for the homeless. 

"Some of our churches that we work with are helping homeless people are no longer going to be on bus routes, when the bus routes shift. It might create more of a hub for people coming through in this area for services," says Hilbelink.

"Many homeless people use CapMetro to get around, so I think it's a plus in that direction; however, sometimes that interaction of people who are homeless and people who are not homeless can sometimes create conflict or calls to 911 or whatever," he said. "Sometimes for good reason, because crimes are being committed, but oftentimes because people are scared to see homeless people."

Construction is expected to be complete in spring 2019.


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