UT medical school construction to cause traffic headaches downtown


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and Photojournalist DATHAN HULL

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Posted on October 29, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 7:34 AM

AUSTIN -- By 2016 downtown Austin will have a new teaching hospital, a state-of-the-art research center and a medical school.

Before the area near University Medical Center Brackenridge and the Erwin Center can be transformed, the University of Texas has to move Red River Street from 15th Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

“First thing we're going to do is straighten Red River,” said Vice President of University Operations Pat Clubb.

That means Red River in that area will have to be shut down. It's the first step toward the University of Texas' fast-tracked construction plan to create a medical district they say will transform health care in Central Texas.

It's an ambitious plan, and Clubb says they realize the strict deadlines won't be easy.

“We have benchmark dates that we've got to keep to, and so far we're on schedule. We intend to stay on schedule. We worry about weather until we get the buildings closed in, but all of the contractors build in some flexible time, and they know we're going to run into issues," she said.

On Tuesday night more than 500 people packed into the Student Activity Center on campus for an update and open forum on the district's progress.

So far Clubb says they have the function of each building complete, but the design won't be finished until spring.

“There won't be orange roofs, but you will get to see what it looks like at that point,” she said.

The new Dell Medical School and the teaching hospital are expected to bring an estimated 15,000 new jobs to Austin and $2 billion a year in economic activity.

But until then traffic will be delayed in that area.

"We’re going to be building four buildings, plus the hospital all at one time. So there will be disruption," Clubb said.

Road work along Red River is expected to begin this December and will be complete by December 2014.