Changes underway for downtown Austin parking

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by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News

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kvue.com

Posted on September 25, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 25 at 5:41 PM

AUSTIN -- More changes are underway that will affect how you get around downtown Austin. They'll also mean nearly 100 fewer parking spots.

Construction is already underway. The right lanes of both Guadalupe and Lavaca from Cesar Chavez to MLK will soon be transit-only lanes. That means only buses and bikes will be allowed in those lanes. Cars will be able to get into the lanes to make a right turn. However, downtown Austin will also lose the right-side street parking in that area.

For example, all of the meters in front of the First United Methodist Church on Lavaca will be gone. The church's senior pastor worries about parking for weddings and funerals.

“If you have a funeral here, and the hearse can't be stationed here, the family cars can't be stationed here, people are already in an emotional state,” said Pastor John Wright.

The side street is so sloped, it would be difficult to carry a casket there.

Robert Spillar, the director of transportation for Austin says they are going to make an exception for those special events, they’ve just go to figure out how to allow parking.

No parking on the right side of the street will also affect businesses and deliveries.

“Perhaps they'll have to be made on the left side of the street and come across at the cross walks,” Spillar said.

Spillar says the changes will create a net loss of 95 parking spots. To make up for the loss, the city plans to convert some downtown parallel parking into back-in angle parking like on South Congress, though they don't know exactly where yet.

“It's difficult, and it's scary actually, because there's oncoming traffic and stuff. I just think it's dangerous,” said driver Morgan Jones.

While some aren't fans of the plan, others say it's worth the gain of bus service.

“It increases the efficiency, because at peak service along this corridor, we'll have as many as 60 buses an hour traveling, so imagine, that's a bus every minute,” said Spillar.

The lanes will also accommodate the new Metro Rapid buses. The service is expected to begin in early 2014.

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