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Austin officials say Sixth Street should remain closed to vehicles on weekends

Pedestrians walk across East Sixth Street in downtown Austin. The street is closed to cars on weekends.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Pedestrians walk across East Sixth Street in downtown Austin. The street is closed to cars on weekends.

The city doesn't plan to open Sixth Street to cars on weekends, according to a memo sent Monday by Austin Police and city leaders to the mayor and City Council.

The idea was suggested after a mass shooting in June left one person dead and dozens injured in the downtown bar district. There have since been a number of proposals on how to improve safety in the area, including the formation of a team to increase coordination and communication with public safety officers and a proposed "entertainment permit" for businesses that operate after 12 a.m., which would require safety training for staff.

Austin Police and city leaders say reopening the road is not feasible because its narrow sidewalks can't support the kind of pedestrian traffic seen on weekends, especially during peak hours between 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m..

The memo suggests pursuing efforts to diversify the type of businesses in the district, so foot traffic is spread throughout the day. The city plans to launch pilot programs that would allow businesses to expand seating, dining or small-scale activities to sidewalks and parking lanes on certain days.

The memo also suggests improving lighting conditions, particularly in alleyways, by conducting a lighting study to better assess dark areas. Property owners will be encouraged to install light fixtures on parts of their buildings that face alleys. City leaders recommend any future redesign or rebuild of the street should address lighting issues.

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