Congress Avenue makeover in the works

Austin

Some big changes are in the works for the heart of downtown Austin that could impact the way the public drives and walks down Congress Avenue.

Even though Congress has some of the widest sidewalks in the city, some city officials feel the section between Riverside Drive and the State Capitol is not pedestrian friendly because it gets too busy.

Over the past year, several ideas have been generated on ways to make improvements. Those include reducing Congress by one lane making it protected for bikes and scooters. In an effort to widen the sidewalks there’s an idea to change the current parking from pulling into the spot to parallel parking.

“So we’re looking hard at re-balancing the distribution of space out there on the avenue so there’s more space for cafes and other retail activities within the public realm there,” says David Kim Taylor, the Project Manager with the Public Works Department.

The hope is if more people want to come down to the avenue, the “For Lease” signs will be replaced with shops. But, right now no funding has been allocated for the project.

“We understand it will be something that will require a bond that will take tens of millions of dollars to make these improvements,” Kim Taylor says.

The city is hosting a public open house Tuesday at 800 N. Congress Ave. from 7-9 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. to gather feedback on the proposed ideas.

“With the future south central waterfront improvements just over the horizon and all that has been built on Congress Avenue, it’s time to get an update that brings us into the Bicentennial for Texas in 2040 and that’s the timeframe for when we would like to see the completion of these projects,” Kim Taylor says.

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