Construction on gas lines along Dean Keeton and Guadalupe has caused lane closures and changing traffic patterns since last summer.
Texas Gas Service, a natural gas distribution company, has been working to replace natural gas lines as part of a planned enhancement project that is set to be completed later this year, said Christy Penders, public relations manager for Texas Gas Service.
“Texas Gas Service is working on a planned enhancement project that includes the replacement of approximately 3,000 feet of distribution main pipe,” Penders said in an email. “This project will provide for continued safe, reliable natural gas service to our customers here in Austin, including The University of Texas.”
While the construction is through Texas Gas Service, the company will consult UT Utilities and Energy Management for direction and guidance, said Leonard Friesenhahn, associate director for the division.
“UT has underground infrastructure on both sides of Dean Keeton and below the street itself,” Friesenhahn said in an email. “We’ll maintain close communication with them throughout the project to monitor progress and potential impacts to campus.”
Because of this construction, traffic along Dean Keeton has been narrowed down to one lane and the bike lane on one side of the road is blocked off. Traffic is especially bad around 4-5 p.m., when most students go home, said theatre studies freshman Deja Criston.
“Construction definitely gets in the way of traffic and makes it really inconvenient because sometimes traffic backs up pretty bad,” Criston said. “It seems really unnecessary at times because I don’t always see people working on the construction, so I don’t understand why the lane is closed.”
To get around the closed-off bike lane, most cyclists will either ride in the flow of traffic or ride on the sidewalk, which is also narrowed from construction, said Hayley Bishop, vice president of the Campus Bike Alliance.
“This is a real problem when there is a lot of traffic,” said Bishop, a chemical engineering and Plan II senior. “Because they have moved the traffic down to a single lane, cars will be lined up bumper to bumper, and that’s when riders have to go on the sidewalk. It is not only inconvenient, but it’s also dangerous for pedestrians.”
Bishop said when she encounters construction while cycling, she typically tries to take alternative routes to avoid it.
“With Dean Keeton, there really aren’t any alternative routes,” Bishop said. “It’s not very feasible to ride on any roads parallel to Dean Keeton, so cyclists are kind of stuck.”
As construction continues, Bishop said it would be helpful to see detour signs posted before the closed bike lane.
“It would be really helpful if there were like detour directions, and kind of a heads-up for cyclists,” Bishop said. “Because they haven’t put anything up, it kind of seems as though the cyclists are a complete afterthought.”