As The Domain catches eyes of developers, traffic congestion concerns grow

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Domain continues to catch the attention of developers. Dallas-based real estate group Tier Reit announced during its fourth-quarter earnings call, the company is expanding its property at the northwest Austin shopping area.

Tier Reit acquired the Domain Point, a two-building complex that’s about 240,000 square feet. The company says the Domain Point offers short-term opportunity to relieve overflow issues elsewhere in The Domain, and in the long-term, they’ll look at redevelopment opportunities to attract even more offices and people to the area.

But people who live nearby say while growth is exciting, they’re concerned about traffic as they see new buildings go up in the area.

“It’s very heavy, very congested most of the time,” Brent Fariss, who lives across the street from The Domain, said. His commute to downtown can be about 45 minutes long.

The last time the city of Austin conducted a comprehensive study of growth and traffic needs in the North Burnet area was back in 2007. The study looked at the entire neighborhood that includes The Domain. The nearly 200-page document outlines the city’s master plan, aimed for completion by 2035.

The study discusses mixed-use land development, which means developing a neighborhood that offers office space, residential areas and retail.

“It reduces the dependence on driving. If you have mixed land use, things are very close to one another, you can walk, you can bicycle,” Dr. Chandra Bhat at UT Austin’s Center for Transportation Research explained. “I know you’re worried about if you have more office spaces, it’s going to draw more traffic into The Domain, but imagine if many of those employees could live in The Domain complex.”

Back in 2007, the study estimated about 70,000 cars would move through The Domain and Burnet Road area during evening rush hour. The study went on to say if mixed-use development and other strategies succeeded, that number could be reduced by half.

The study also discussed using public transportation to move people and including affordable housing in the development plan.

Dr. Bhat said another way to reducing traffic is controlling the demand. “Can we promote things like telecommuting?” he said. “If every worker in the Austin area was able to telecommute once a month, that itself could reduce peak hour traffic.”

Dr. Bhat said he’s hopeful traffic issues can be solved eventually. But neighbors nearby told us they aren’t convinced yet. “It seems like it could work, but a lot of people live where they can afford and work where they work,” one neighbor said. “It would be [better] if you can work in The Domain area and live there but it’s just hard. I know a lot of people just can’t afford to live there and have to live in Round Rock, Georgetown and commute into, toward the Domain or even further out there.”

KXAN asked the Austin Transportation Department if it could share any recent traffic counts done for The Domain, but we did not hear back.

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