Delays, lane closures on the Drag due to surveying

Jackson Barton

University Parking and Transportation Services sent out a notification Friday warning of potential traffic congestions and lane closures along Guadalupe due to roadwork during daytime hours this week. Roadwork is planned to continue until Sunday, but PTS was advised the work may extend into next week.

“If you’ve ever traveled down Guadalupe, it is congested as it is already,” PTS assistant director Blanca Gamez said. “That’s why it’s important for people to plan early and to plan ahead and to use alternate routes to alleviate that congestion along the corridor.”

Sarah Behunek is a spokesperson for the City of Austin Corridor Mobility Program, which voters approved in 2016 and put $482 million toward corridor improvements in the City. Behunek said the lane closures and delays are due to a vehicle collecting soil samples in preparation for construction expected to begin in 2021.

“We’re in preliminary engineering, which is just the first phase of design,” Behunek said. “That will take at least (through) 2019 going into 2020.”

In the corridor program’s plans for the Drag, the intersection of 24th Street and Guadalupe Street will become a pedestrian scramble, meaning pedestrians are able to cross streets in every direction, including diagonally.

David Polachek, a radio-television-film junior, lives and works at The Castilian apartment community and crosses this intersection to go to class.

“This particular opportunity to cross is not very long, so if you miss it you’re going to be waiting here for three or four minutes,” Polachek said.

Plans also include a new protected bicycle lane where a concrete barrier separates bicycles from pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the east side of Guadalupe Street between MLK Boulevard and Dean Keeton Street, depending on how much public land is available.

Students, such as aerospace engineering sophomore James Scales, who ride their bikes down the Drag are not always riding in a protected bike lane.

“Having the buffers between traffic lanes and bike lanes is really helpful because it’s a lot safer than an unprotected bike lane,” Scales said.

In 2016, voters approved $720 million for transportation and mobility improvements, including the corridor program, Behunek said. Additional planned improvements for the Drag include adding more Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks, new street lights and pavement repairs.