Expect delays on S. 1st Street near Lady Bird Lake all summer

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Construction of a new high rise just south of downtown is going to have a major impact on how long it takes you to get home. 

Barton Springs Construction (KXAN) 

According to the Austin Transportation Department, lane closures will begin Saturday, May 18 as crews working at 401 South 1st Street start the first phase of their required utility mitigation. 

The plans include:

  • May 18 to August 19: an eastbound lane of Barton Springs Road between South 1st Street and West Riverside Drive will close.
  • May 25 to August 19: the two western-most southbound lanes on South 1st Street will close.

The city said the closures will allow crews working on the 15-story tower at 401 S. 1st to bury utility lines underground. The tower is expected to have retail and office space. 

The Beck Group sent KXAN a statement about the lane closure: 

We are working closely with the City of Austin on this project to bring long-term benefits to the community, including streetscape, open space and walkability improvements. Safety is our number one priority, and as with any construction project, there will be temporary changes in traffic patterns in the area to ensure the safety of all drivers, pedestrians, neighbors and construction team members.

A sign is up already on South 1st warning drivers about potential delays due to the closure. 

“We’ve got everything from walking, scooters, two wheels, four wheels and more in this area, and it’s extremely busy,” said Robert Botto, who works near the intersection. 

Botto added, “I’ll leave a little bit after, closer to 6, 6:30 sometimes. If I were trying to leave my office building and turn left on South 1st that, even at the time, it’s tricky, it could take a while.”

Andrew Dobbs with Texas Campaign for the Environment also works near the construction site. 

“If I see the bus is almost at the stop, I don’t actually have to run to catch it because the traffic is bad enough that I can just walk to the stop and I’m going to beat it to the stop usually,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs believes this summer’s closure will be just one of many more construction related closures to come.

“You’ve got the old Hooters property there. You’ve got the Threadgill property right there. You’ve got the Le Bare right here,” he said. “This is whole area is going to look like downtown in 10 years, maybe less.”

He said a long term solution is to get more people to use public transit. 

“If you have one person per car, you’ve got a ton of traffic. If you’re sitting in traffic and you’re complaining about it, you are traffic, right?” he said.

Dobbs and Botto both said the area isn’t safe for pedestrians, cyclists and those riding electric scooters.

“I saw just last week a cyclist almost get hit and a scooter driver get almost hit by cars, really close nears misses,” Dobbs said.

“[Drivers are] running that red light, sliding through that yellow light. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had near misses with cars,” Botto added.

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