Road construction that will result in bus-only lanes on Guadalupe and Lavaca streets could begin as soon as next week.
The “transit priority lanes” are part of the MetroRapid project by Capital Metro. Capital Metro will prohibit cars on the right-most lanes of Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets between Cesar Chavez Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard. Cars will be allowed to use the bus-only lanes to make right turns.
The City of Austin’s Transportation Department explained the timetable for construction on the new transit priority lanes in a memo to the Mayor and City Council. Resurfacing could begin within a week, a city spokesperson told KUT News, and restriping of lanes could start by October.
"This will allow Capital Metro to begin MetroRapid testing in November and December with an anticipated launch of the new service in early 2014 (anticipated as early as January)," explained the memo from the city's transportation director, Rob Spillar.
“One of the attributes of MetroRapid is faster travel times,” says Todd Hemingson, vice president of Planning and Development at Cap Metro. “Obviously any time you’re stuck in traffic, especially in downtown Austin, you’re not moving very fast. The idea is to give transit a priority lane where they’re not stuck in traffic.”
These bus-only priority lanes will result in 95 fewer parking spots downtown and the addition of bike lanes.
In some areas, the bus lane will be in addition to existing traffic lanes. In other areas, it will replace an existing traffic lane, reducing the total number of lanes. You can see block by block configurations with these blueprints of Guadalupe and Lavaca. This brochure from Cap Metro includes before and after renderings.
“In a downtown situation or any urban environment, as transportation players we’re trying to make efficient use of road space,” Hemingson said. “The focus becomes one about moving more people, and not necessarily one about moving more automobiles.”