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‘Bulb-Outs’ Coming to South Congress

Pedestrians crossing South Congress will soon have less unprotected space to navigate.
Photo courtesy
Pedestrians crossing South Congress will soon have less unprotected space to navigate.

In an effort to improve pedestrian safety and calm traffic, the city’s putting the squeeze on South Congress.

Construction starts today on an eight to 12-month project to “bulb-out,” or extend curbs on streets intersecting South Congress, shortening the crossing distance for pedestrians from 90 feet to 57 feet. The bulbs will take the form of concrete islands providing "pedestrian refuges," according to the city.

Of course, construction means traffic delays. The city states “One lane of traffic will be closed on S. Congress in the area where the contractor is working and one lane of traffic will be closed on the cross-streets with detours for the cross-streets.” Does that mean the bulbs are calming traffic already?

Curb extensions are one of several traffic-calming measures the city is employing on South Congress, owing to the strip’s high pedestrian traffic. Along with the bulb-outs, the city is also making sidewalk and bus stop improvements and adding ADA-accessible parking spaces. It’s previously added several additional stop lights, and implemented back-in angle parking along the strip.

The main stretch of SoCo is included in the project, from Riverside Dr. to Oltorf St. Work begins near the North end, with construction of a “Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon,” or signaled crosswalk, at at 1011 South Congress. The city will then begin building the bulb-outs, on all four intersection corners, starting at Mary Street. “After completing the intersection at Mary Street, the contractor will move north to Annie Street, and will continue to move block by block from south to north towards Riverside Drive,” the city writes. The city will then begin "bulbing out" the southern stretch of SoCo starting this summer.

You can read more about the initiative on the city’s website.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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