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Austin Orders Up a Street That Puts Transit, Biking, and Walking First

Austin plans to overhaul one of its busiest streets with bus lanes and protected bike lanes. Image: Kimley Horn via city of Austin [PDF]

You'd never know by looking at the allocation of space on Guadalupe Street that it's one of Austin's busiest routes for walking and transit -- cars get most of the real estate. But that could change soon.

Known locally as "The Drag," Guadalupe Street is a busy commuting route to downtown as well as a commercial street. It also borders the University of Texas campus and sees enormous foot traffic.

During the daily peak on the busiest mile of Guadalupe Street, about 2,000 vehicles travel the corridor per hour, while about 7,600 people cross the street. The street is also served by 20 bus routes, carrying 14,000 trips per day.

The city unveiled plans this week to overhaul a mile of Guadalupe Street by the University of Texas. The redesign calls for wider sidewalks, curbside protected bike lanes, and dedicated bus lanes.

About 7,500 pedestrians cross Austin's Guadalupe Street every hour at peak times. Photo: City of Austin
About 7,500 pedestrians cross the busiest section of Austin's Guadalupe Street every hour at peak times. Photo: City of Austin
About 7,500 pedestrians cross Austin's Guadalupe Street every hour at peak times. Photo: City of Austin

Instead of two general traffic lanes in each direction, there will be one. A parking lane will also be removed.

One general travel lane and one row of parking will be removed for the project. It is projected to cost $33.7 million.

Austin is the state capital, and the redesign of Guadalupe has caught the attention of Governor Greg Abbott, who took the time last week to tweet his displeasure.

But if other Texas cities want to help people opt out of crushing congestion, what Austin is doing on Guadalupe Street is the model.

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