AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a gateway to Sixth Street, Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake, among other Austin hotspots.
The section of South Lamar Boulevard between Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road is dotted with mixed-use developments, small businesses and tons of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
It’s not unusual for close encounters between drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
“I’ve seen horrendous things. I can’t even tell you the horrendous nightmares I’ve seen in Austin in the traffic department,” said Mike Schmahl, who walks and bikes in the area.
Bicyclist Melissa Nguyen has experienced many close calls herself.
“Way too often than I really want to count,” she said.
That’s why the segment and South Lamar Boulevard are a target of the 2016 mobility bond for intersection, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, along with eight other major corridor projects.
Renderings from a 2016 mobility report show wider, fully-connected sidewalks and protected bicycle lanes.
So, why hasn’t construction begun on the segment between Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road?
“The fact that we passed a bond almost seven years ago now to fix one of Austin’s most dense and dangerous corridors, where density and use just keep multiplying, and not a dime has been spent is astounding. Please figure out what is going on!” one KXAN viewer wrote to us.
Lauren Ramirez, a spokesperson for Austin’s Corridor Program Office, said the segment of the project was paused for their office to “further coordinate with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to refine the designs to maintain travel capacity.”
According to the project’s latest fiscal report released earlier this month, TxDOT put the project on hold in 2020.
“Improvements will be implemented in phases, with bidding and construction anticipated in 2023,” the report stated.
Ramirez said once the designs are approved by TxDOT, CPO will develop an updated construction timeline. Neither agency told us what needed to be redesigned, why or how much longer it could take.
Until then, Schmahl said he’ll continue to try to avoid crossing South Lamar on his daily trips to Barton Springs.
“We have the Town Lake path and we can hike and bike and do those sorts of things. Once you get off that, you know, it’s not quite as safe crossing the streets,” he said.
Nguyen bikes three to four times a week and would love to see protected bike lanes.
“I’m kind of bummed to see some of the flex bars are being removed around the city. That definitely adds a barrier of protection between us and my cars,” she said.
Until then, she said she and others in the bicyclist community stick to areas they know with safer bike lanes, like east Austin. She’s anxious to see her tax dollars finally brought to life on the paused segment of South Lamar.
“If we have the money, please put it toward building and making safe bike infrastructure for us,” she said.
Ramirez said the larger project, South Lamar Boulevard between Barton Springs Road and U.S. 290, is in the design finalization and permit approval process. She said construction is supposed to begin in the spring/summer of 2023, starting with water and wastewater line improvements.
She added all the 2016 Corridor Construction Program (CCP) projects are still on schedule to be completed or under construction by the end of 2024.