The road to hell is all torn up

While I was under the impression that the Austin city budget was hit harder by the recession than most cities, apparently I was wrong. Current city roadwork projects underway in the more-or-less central part of town include:

  • South First
  • North Lamar (this isn’t even expected to be completed until mid-2005)
  • Guadalupe & 45th Street
  • Koenig/Allandale
  • East Cesar Chavez

And that doesn’t include the eternal mess at I-35/Ben White, which is a TxDOT project.

I am genuinely curious: where has the city found the money to pay for all these projects? Did we pass a bond or something? And why are they hell-bent on taking on so many major projects in a relatively small, dense area all at once?

9 thoughts on “The road to hell is all torn up”

  1. The intersection by your house tics me off the most.The locals don’t want a Mall there anyway!Traffic is gonna bottle-neck there worse than it already is when the project is complete.

  2. I keep getting caught in the N. Lamar construction. I need to remember to route myself around that. Which, of course, is exactly what the area merchants are dreading.

    I’m skeptical about the Lamar at 6th project. I understand the urban densification arguments, and I hate suburban sprawl as much as the next tree hugger. I just don’t understand how the roads around there are going to handle the added traffic load. For instance, you can make Lamar Blvd. 20 lanes either direction, but it’s still got a choke point at the river.

    I also think this will kill any remaining chance for West 6th to become a good walking neighborhood.

  3. Addressing yours and other comments:

    1. 1998 and 2000 bond elections for street reconstruction. Most of these are worse than they would have been had the 1980s and early 1990s councils not skimped on basic maintenance in favor of suburban construction.

    2. They attempted to schedule them far enough apart to avoid difficulties. Utilities complicate matters (as does the state law that now requires the city to basically bend over for most utilities any time they choose to ask).

    3. Lamar/6th project is for the benefit of the people who live nearby, in addition to you guys driving by and through. Don’t forget that there’s now tens of thousands of people within walking distance (and more every year).


    A Guy On The UTC who will Go Postal if he hears “Man, Our Roads Are Horrible!”, “Our Drivers Are The Worst”, “Just Wait A Minute And The Weather Will Change” or other Such Tripe Again

  4. Thanks Mike–I don’t think that we’re even talking about same Lamar projects though: it is now under construction as far north as 12th, I believe. I suppose that might be related.

    The Allandale project, of course, isn’t just maintenance, it’s widening the road against the wishes of the neighbors. I don’t blame them.

  5. Thanks so much for the link! I have been trying to find out info from the city (called 311, other numbers) and no one even mentioned this online resource! You just saved me some gas AND aggravation!

  6. dragonfly jenny

    Sorry, MD — our roads, at least in town, ARE horrible. And where improvements are being made, they seem to drag on forever. (The seeming lack of coordination between road construction and utility work is particularly galling. I mean, a road project (like Barton Springs or S. 1st) gets finished after what seems an eternity, only to be dug up again for some utility project.) And as you point out, part of the problem was skimping on basic maintenance in favor of suburban construction. Just one of many ways in which suburbs bleed cities dry.

  7. Jenny,

    The point was that “Our Roads Are Horrible” is a cliche. Every city in the country thinks it, just like “Our Drivers Drive Slow In The Left Lane”, “Our Drivers Don’t Know How To Merge”, “If You Don’t Like The Weather, Just Wait A Minute”, and the rest.

    – MD

  8. (lost my earlier comment)

    wrt Allandale – Koenig is TXDOT. The city even made an attempt to take over the road, which is the only poor leverage available over those guys (and still relies on the good humor of the state).

    wrt 6th and Lamar, my argument was with the commenter who apparently thinks we shouldn’t build any more density downtown because there’s not room for any more cars – a quixotic position which leads inexorably to destroying the city in order to save it. He forgets that there’s many many many people within walking distance, some of whom (like I was when I lived there) are waiting for more things to walk to. (The original plan included both a Target and a movieplex – which would have eliminated my top 2 remaining driving errands when I lived in Clarksville, since I already walked for groceries and pharmacologicals).

  9. oh man, MD, you are sooo right about those awful cliches like “if you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes!” The truly astonishing thing is that many folks truly seem to believe that these “revelations” apply uniquely to their town!

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