Traffic congestion presents the biggest challenge to downtown Austin’s continued growth. The Downtown Austin Alliance is working with regional transportation agencies and downtown stakeholders on solutions to improve mobility into, out of and around downtown.
To be a great city, we must have a great public transportation system – one that can keep pace with our growth. The DAA believes that system must include urban rail that links the current MetroRail Red Line with other areas north, south, east and west of downtown Austin.
This issue has been postponed to a future bond election to be determined. Meanwhile, we are using the public feedback we gathered in 2012 to help the City of Austin strengthen its plans.
Movability Austin is a transportation management association that educates downtown employers and employees about alternative commuting solutions. The DAA created Movability Austin in 2011 in partnership with the City of Austin, Travis County and Capital Metro.
After years of advocacy work by the DAA for managed lanes on MoPac Expressway, the project is funded and Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and TxDOT are in the planning stages. This will ease congestion by adding an extra lane in each direction, which will allow buses and vanpools to travel at a constant speed, even when traffic in the general-purpose lanes is at a standstill. A limited number of private vehicles also will be able to access the lanes by paying a toll. Toll rates will increase as the amount of traffic in the lanes increases, ensuring the lanes don’t become congested.
In late 2012, using a federal $38 million grant, Capital Metro began construction on stations for two routes that will use high-capacity, high-frequency buses. The buses will have fewer stops, lower boarding areas for quick wheelchair loading and the ability to pre-empt traffic lights when behind schedule. One route will serve North Lamar and South Congress; the other will serve the Burnet Road and South Lamar corridor. The two routes will run through downtown on Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets. Service will begin in early 2014.
Based on input from a DAA-led task force, the City of Austin hired a consultant to develop a master plan for a downtown wayfinding system. Staff presented the final draft of the plan to City Council in November 2012 and hopes to begin implementing elements of the plan in 2013. Funds for the project come from revenue generated by the downtown parking meters’ extended hours.
The Downtown Austin Alliance continues to support efforts to bring bike sharing to Austin. The City of Austin received a $1.5 million transportation enhancement grant from TxDOT. The grant required a $500,000 match, which was contributed by several local businesses. Austin B-Cycle is set to launch in December 2013.