South Congress now sports new parking spaces

Jillian Bliss

The city of Austin unveiled road improvements Thursday morning along South Congress Avenue between Oltorf Street and Riverside Drive.

The city added approximately 60 back-in and parallel parking spaces to the area, in addition to repaving South Congress and drawing new lane guidelines. Project manager Mark Schruben said construction was completed before expected despite utility problems that caused delays.

“We decided to see if we could double up on construction crews and work weekends in order to get everything done,” Schruben said. “We overcame utility problems and finished paving work one month ahead of schedule.”

Schruben said construction partially discouraged commerce along South Congress, but said he noticed life return to the area during the lunch hours Thursday. Cameron Goodrum, manager at Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress, said business has been significantly slower this summer due to street work.

“There was still pedestrian traffic coming through, but this certainly took its toll,” Goodrum said. “There were days we closed an hour early because of slow business.”

Cameron said he thinks more customers will come to Big Top during the remainder of the summer now that construction is complete. He said it will be interesting to watch visitors navigate the new back-in parking spaces.

Austin resident Alexis Bowen said she finds the new parking conditions to be confusing.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bowen said.

Bowen said she was in a hurry when she parked her vehicle nose-first in a back-in spot. Onlooker Christian Malsatzki said he was worried whether she would be able to pull out of the space.

“At least when you were head-on parking you could just pull in,” Malsatzki said. “I chose to go around the corner and parallel park.”