Capital Metro and the City of Austin are putting the finishing touches on improvements to the Lavaca Street and Guadalupe Street corridors, designed to reduce transit delays and ease congestion. The changes are highlighted by a new bright-red, bus-only contraflow lane on Guadalupe between 18th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
“Guadalupe and Lavaca have a jog to get around the university. It’s just a very, very congested intersection,” said Jenn Golech, director of bus operations at Capital Metro. “So this new contraflow project kind of gets us out of our congestion and gets us on our way more quickly.”
Capital Metro anticipates the new traffic flow will drop travel times through the intersection by 18 percent or about 65 seconds per bus, saving the average commuter two hours per year. In terms of passenger volume, the Guadalupe and Lavaca corridor is one of the busiest in the city.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Kathie Tovo and Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke were among the officials on a bus tour of the corridor Friday, ahead of the changes taking effect Sunday.
Adler said the project represents a small taste of the collaboration that will be needed to solve mobility issues in Austin.
“That’s the conversation that we’re going to be having over the next year: How do we create dedicated pathways for mass, rapid public transit in our city, because it is something that we desperately need,” Adler said, referencing the Project Connect plan that could go before voters in 2020.
To get to the contraflow lane, buses will take advantage of a new signal at 18th and Lavaca, allowing drivers to turn left ahead of three lanes of general-purpose traffic.
“It’s been a lot of back and forth and a lot of collaboration to get to this point. Every little aspect you see is a really important component of this signal,” said Robin Osborne, a traffic engineer for the Austin Transportation Department. “There’s no right turns on reds, and things like that which really help the buses get through the intersection in a really safe way, which of course is our priority.”
The project also includes new protected bike lanes and a mixed-use path for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s the first funded by the 2016 Mobility Bond Corridor Construction Program to be completed.
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