AUSTIN (KXAN) — In May, the Austin Transportation Department, Capital Metro and Austin’s Corridor Program Office will team up to begin reworking the way buses get through one of the busiest corridors in downtown Austin.
The far right Lane of Lavaca Street between 15th and 18th Streets will become a dedicated transit-only lane, in which buses will have their own left turn signal on to 18th from Lavaca. From there, they will be routed on to Guadalupe Street in a northbound bus lane that will go against southbound one-way traffic, until it hits Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Buses will then move across MLK using another bus-only signal, to make it on to the next stretch of Guadalupe.
Cap Metro officials say the changes will both help the flow of traffic for drivers and cut down on bus route delays due to traffic congestion on MLK Boulevard.
“We’ll be really removing ourselves largely from that area, so allocating more space to other modes than us, while we’re taking a more efficient path on 18th street,” said Cap Metro Senior Planner Caitlin D’Alton.
According to Cap Metro, 14 bus routes currently use the corridor. Planners hope the changes will make those bus routes more reliable when it comes to being on time, which could help boost ridership in the longrun.
“We have unreliable congestion through the corridor,” D’Alton said. “It can be difficult to create schedules that can be consistent all the time when we’re merging with autos and there’s box blocking and all those things.”
The final design will also include new bicycle infrastructure and pedestrian safety improvements, including a dedicated bike and pedestrian lane that will run next to the bus lane on the one-way stretch of Guadalupe between 18th Street and MLK Boulevard.
Transportation officials held an open house for wanting to learn more about the plan Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Cambridge Tower, located at 1801 Lavaca Street.