Growing East 6th Street means growing problems


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

Posted on February 6, 2013 at 11:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 10:54 AM

AUSTIN -- Running parallel to a growing East 6th Street full of new bars and restaurants is a much darker East 5th Street packed with cars on a busy night.

“This corner right here is a death trap,” a bicyclist said referring to the intersection of East 6th and Navasota. She thinks the lamp lights along 6th are too dim, and the lighting on 5th is practically non-existent.

So the City of Austin, along with Capital Metro, is working to change that through the Saltillo District Redevelopment Master Plan.

“Obviously that is a booming part of Austin, so it's good timing for us to be able to get in there and improve some of the pedestrian walkways and lighting,” said Sara Hartley with the Public Works Department.

Construction has already begun at East 5th and San Marcos Street close to Interstate 35. Further east, however, remains in the dark and at night it becomes a crowded, unauthorized parking lot.

Deep potholes and a lack of lighting are a big concern with area bar patrons and local businesses KVUE spoke to along East 5th Street.

That’s why the city plans to build new sanctioned parking, sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping from the I-35 access road to Onion Street.

“We are making sure that we're going to have access on the street for pedestrians, cars and bikes; everyone that needs to use that roadway,” Hartley said.

So an area developing close to rail lines and a busy nightlife will eventually be safer for everyone.

The Public Works Department tells KVUE they are considering halting construction during the week of SXSW and resuming the project immediately after.