AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some Central Texas neighbors are going head-to-head with hospital giant Ascension Seton.
According to documents filed with Austin’s Planning Commission, the company wants to expand its Austin medical center with a new cardiovascular wing along the West 38th Street frontage and a women’s and children’s tower along the West 34th Street frontage.
Seton is seeking a rezoning request for the additional 358,155 square feet, which would mean demolishing its existing parking garage to make space and rebuilding the garage on the neighboring property to the west, which the company also owns.
A spokesperson from Austin’s Housing and Planning Department said two groups, the West 31st Street Creekside Neighborhood Association and the Bryker Woods Neighborhood Association, have asked the planning commission to postpone the case until their Sept. 27 meeting.
“One of the challenges for us that we feel could be underestimated currently is how cut-through traffic may impact our neighborhood,” said Jason Thompkins, spokesperson for the West 31st Street Creekside Neighborhood Association.
He said he’s already seen incidents in which drivers try to avoid oncoming traffic on the narrow road, swerving into the bike and pedestrian lane.
“Either causing bicyclists to fall or jump off their bikes or pedestrians to have to get out of the way,” Thompkins recalled.
He said the challenge is managing hikers from the Shoal Creek Trail with the bicycle and pedestrian lane and people from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School all sharing the same narrow road.
According to documents filed with the planning commission, a traffic impact analysis found Seton’s expansion would mean an estimated 5,364 trips over the approved amount for the site.
“The total approved project trips based on the 2002 TIA Update letter is 10,019 unadjusted trips per day, while the approved plus proposed land uses would generate a total of 15,383 unadjusted trips per day,” the document reads.
The information is based on a 2002 traffic impact analysis update later, according to the same document.
“Austin has certainly changed quite a bit, as has this neighborhood and this street,” Thompkins said.
His association wants Seton to hit the brakes on their rezoning request and conduct a new traffic impact study.
Seton agreed to the postponement, which the planning commission approved unanimously during its meeting Tuesday evening.
“Ascension Seton is committed to being a responsible neighbor and partnering with the communities we serve to meet the health care needs of our growing city,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to KXAN. “We continue to work with the city of Austin to provide any information or studies needed for the planned improvements to Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin.”
The spokesperson added “they welcome the opportunity to address any concerns by continuing to engage with neighbors and community leaders in this process.”
Thompkins said they are excited Seton will be bringing more services to the area. They just hope the company will help bring some solutions that neighbors have in mind for their congested area.
“Invite them to help apply funds potentially to roadway improvements or traffic calming device improvements, stoplight improvements in the area,” he said.
The spokesperson from Austin’s Housing and Planning Department told KXAN after the planning commission considers Seton’s case, city council is expected to review it in late October.