Construction will narrow Red River St., close parking spaces and roads

Neelam Bohra

Construction near the Steve Hicks School of Social Work began Tuesday and will close multiple parking spots and roads in the area.

Between Clyde Littlefield Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Red River Street will narrow from four to two lanes until late this fall. While construction started Tuesday, the Austin City Council approved the changes as part of the Arena and Red River Realignment projects during its Feb. 7 meeting, which will shift Red River Street to the west of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

According to a press release, the northern portion of Lot 80 will not reopen until summer 2020, and all of 20th Street will close until spring of 2020. The "C" spaces along Robert Dedman Drive will also close permanently. The Child Care Center within the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and the Texas Swim Center will also only be accessible from Robert Dedman Drive until the end of the semester, according to the Parking and Transportation Services website. 

Veronica Trevino, media manager for Financial and Administrative Services, said Parking and Transportation Services notified students about these changes in an email Thursday, and they also posted the changes on their website. 

"We recognize construction and large renovation projects can make it challenging to move around campus," Trevino said in an email. "We strive to help students and the campus community navigate (them) by keeping them informed of project updates and impacts through email, social media and online tools."

Courtney Harris, a social work graduate student, said PTS could have done more to notify students. She said the lack of parking spots forced her to park behind UFCU Disch-Falk Field, take a bus to campus and walk from the bus stop to her class, which added an extra hour to her commute. 

"I was with ten other cars, just driving around, trying to find a spot," Harris said. "It was really stressful to get here, and I*m a parent, so the reason I even bought a C+ (parking) pass was so if I need to leave to go get my child, I can leave early. Now, I'm not sure I can do that. They hinted at it, but I don't think anyone realized the intensity and the severity of the lack of parking to get here."

Madeleine Brunk, a social work graduate student, said she purchased a C permit but received an email from her social work program telling her to return the permit. She said she decided to buy a garage permit instead. 

"I'm lucky enough that I was able to buy a garage parking pass," Brunk said. "But, it's further away, and it was a lot more money. That's a lot of food and potential classes."

Trevino said information about these projects may change and encouraged students to visit the Contstruction Distruptions page hosted by PTS for more information about construction.

"We encourage students and the community to regularly use tools to stay informed about various projects around campus," Trevino said. "We will continue to share parking and construction updates as the projects move forward."