Mark Schruben

Construction is almost complete on South Congress Avenue where pedestrians walk past the new back-in angle parking spots.

Photo Credit: Anastasia Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

The city of Austin unveiled road improvements Thursday morning along South Congress Avenue between Oltorf Street and Riverside Drive.

The city added approximately 60 back-in and parallel parking spaces to the area, in addition to repaving South Congress and drawing new lane guidelines. Project manager Mark Schruben said construction was completed before expected despite utility problems that caused delays.

“We decided to see if we could double up on construction crews and work weekends in order to get everything done,” Schruben said. “We overcame utility problems and finished paving work one month ahead of schedule.”

Schruben said construction partially discouraged commerce along South Congress, but said he noticed life return to the area during the lunch hours Thursday. Cameron Goodrum, manager at Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress, said business has been significantly slower this summer due to street work.

“There was still pedestrian traffic coming through, but this certainly took its toll,” Goodrum said. “There were days we closed an hour early because of slow business.”

Cameron said he thinks more customers will come to Big Top during the remainder of the summer now that construction is complete. He said it will be interesting to watch visitors navigate the new back-in parking spaces.

Austin resident Alexis Bowen said she finds the new parking conditions to be confusing.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bowen said.

Bowen said she was in a hurry when she parked her vehicle nose-first in a back-in spot. Onlooker Christian Malsatzki said he was worried whether she would be able to pull out of the space.

“At least when you were head-on parking you could just pull in,” Malsatzki said. “I chose to go around the corner and parallel park.”

James Williams, city employee of 25-years, works as lead equipment operator during the repaving of South Congress. The process will span three phases and is scheduled to end mid-July.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Riverside Drive undergoes work to improve downtown sewer

Riverside Drive west of South First Street is undergoing a lane reduction and construction project as part of the work being done for the Downtown Wastewater Tunnel, which will run beneath the road to provide sewer services for downtown, according to an Austin press release.

“The wastewater lines are at capacity right now. So for any further development downtown, including new residences, they are going to have to increase the wastewater lines downtown,” said Michelle Frith, spokeswoman for the project.

The project began Sunday and will reduce traffic in the eastbound direction of Riverside Drive to a single lane, with two lanes open in the westbound direction during the construction.

The city is urging drivers to use Barton Springs Road or Cesar Chavez Street as alternate routes if possible or to plan for traffic delays.

The project is expected to last 90 days until the beginning of September.


City to install back-in parking along stretch of South Congress

South Congress Avenue lane closures began Saturday as part of a street improvement project that will make the area more pedestrian-friendly, said project manager Mark Schruben.

Changes to the street will include back-in angle parking, improved bike lanes, 90 additional parking spaces and handicapped parking spaces. The project will cause traffic delays until at least mid-July.

Schruben said the new back-in angle parking, which is similar to the parking setup on parts of Dean Keeton Street, will make parking on the street much safer.

“It’s actually easier and faster, and then when you get out you can see everything and it’s safer,”
Schruben said.

In the first phase of the project, lane closures will affect the area south of Annie Street to Oltorf, then gradually move farther north in stages until the project is completed.

At least one lane will be open in each direction at all times, taking into consideration traffic patterns, Schruben said.
On-street parking will be prohibited, Schruben said.

Drivers are cautioned to consider taking an alternate route if possible, or to expect delays.

In the fall, the city will add concrete sidewalk curb extensions and widen the sidewalk at the crosswalk to make it aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian friendly.

“There are a lot of goals that the overall project is trying to achieve,” Schruben said.

The project’s completion date was initially set for July 15, but the project’s original start date of June 1 was delayed by four days.