The UT Board of Regents approved $38.5 million to realign Red River Street and connect it to the existing Robert Dedman Drive.
The street will be realigned to open approximately four acres for the development of Moody Center, the new basketball arena that will break ground on Dec. 3. UT President Gregory Fenves presented the proposal to the Board of Regents at the Nov. 14 meeting and asked to add the realignment project to the Capital Improvements Program.
“The project we are requesting approval for is (money for) the utilities, sidewalks, roadway (and) traffic signals on Robert Dedman Drive from Dean Keeton to MLK (Boulevard),” Fenves said at the meeting.
Red River Street is going back to its original north-south alignment and will maintain the Robert Dedman name, said Jim Shackelford, director of Capital Planning and Construction. He said the road will also include protected bike lanes, unlike the existing street.
“There is an existing street in the current location, which means we won’t be adding (asphalt) to the campus,” Shackelford said. “It also allows us to create a bicycle path along the relocated Red River Street that will accommodate the biking community.”
The area will be removing a parking lot to make room for the arena. Shackelford said Manor garage will be immediately adjacent to the arena with access points to Robert Dedman. The garage will be walking distance to the arena, but it will also serve as the parking station for the soccer stadium, he said.
Capital Planning and Construction has been collaborating with the city since Feb. 7 when the University presented the proposal to City Council. In the future, Fenves said the city plans to straighten out Red River Street north of Dean Keeton as well. Mary Vo, public information specialist at the Austin Transportation Department, said the University and the city are working closely to realign the street. The city conducted a traffic impact analysis along Robert Dedman street, Red River Street and San Jacinto Boulevard, Vo said.
“There was a traffic impact report to support the decision to move forward with the realignment when city council approved it,” Vo said. “The city has worked closely with the University in the past for development projects, and the realignment is similar in that capacity.”
Vo said the University officially started work on relocation of utility infrastructure Oct. 28, and the University intends to close the existing Red River Street on Monday, Dec. 2.
Shackelford said the road will provide a more direct north-to-south linkage to the University. He said the return on investment will benefit both the city and the University, as the stadium will bring revenue and use from sporting and entertainment events.
“The University and the city at large will receive a brand-new, state-of-the-art, multipurpose arena,” Shackleford said. “It will not only house basketball but also community events, such as shows, plays, concerts and commencement ceremonies.”