ROUND ROCK, Texas — Over the past decade, Round Rock leaders have been looking to improve the downtown core and make it a destination.
According to Gary Hudder, the City's director of transportation, a new construction project along Main Street will improve pedestrian safety in the long run. The project includes the creation of six new "parklets," or miniature parks, to provide benches, outdoor seating and walking space for people walking around downtown.
Four of them are under construction now and are slated to be done by May, according to the City.
“The goal has always – as the downtown has redeveloped – has always been how to make it more pedestrian-friendly, more attractive to pedestrians," Hudder said.
Hudder said actions to accommodate the growth downtown have been taking place over the past decade. Planning and budgeting for this particular project got started last year. Now, the City will be spending $2.39 million on the parklets, repaving a handful of the streets near Main and Lampasas streets, as well as adding streetlights to provide safer walking areas for people in town.
“We have challenges with the sidewalks being fairly narrow, we’ve got some of our restaurants that wanted to do outdoor seating," Hudder said.
The construction has caused some headaches for businesses on Main Street between Lampasas and Mays streets. Parking spots are disappearing in front of a handful of businesses that sit at the intersections.
“We’ve heard that a lot that it was so much easier before the construction started," Mikayla Cochrane said.
Cochrane works as a physical therapist near the corner of Main and Mays. She said patients complain regularly of being able to get to the physical therapy center for treatment over the past few weeks of construction.
“We don’t have a lot of people that just walk in and out," Cochrane said. "We do have a couple that are in wheelchairs and they have to come in through the back of the building. It can be difficult if you’ve never been to the back of the building before."
On the other side of the block, near Main and Lampasas, Ashley Arnold, manager of The Alcove Cantina manager, echoed similar concerns. But she's looking at the long-term.
"There's a lot more traffic around the area," Arnold said. "Now, people have nowhere to park, like the parking lot is quite large, but it's not quite big enough on the weekends to hold everybody."
Hudder noted the number of parking areas surrounding the downtown core, supported by a video posted by the City's Twitter page on Monday.
"The number of spots that we’re losing for the parklets, we believe in our meetings with the downtown business owners, we believe it’s a good tradeoff," Hudder said. "We’re going to pick up some additional sidewalk capacity for folks to enjoy. Maybe some outdoor seating, things like that, and that was a good tradeoff for the spots that we’re losing.”
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