The Great Streets 2025 Plan

The Great Streets 2025 Plan

The Great Streets Master Plan identifies six different types of Great Streets in the Central Business District. In general, the 80-foot right of way typical of downtown streets would contain 44 feet of auto traffic and two 18-foot sidewalks, with specified styles and placement of paving, trees, curb cuts, and lighting. In order of frequency:

Pedestrian-Dominant Street (dark blue)

Second Street, through the new retail district, is the only current candidate for this most car-free of Great Streets types, though others may evolve if retail booms downtown. The extra-wide north sidewalk (32 feet) allows for a "double row of trees, sidewalk cafes, generous seating areas, and impromptu street life. This vision is particularly powerful when one imagines the sun-filled wide sidewalk stretching from Shoal Creek at the western end to the door of the Austin Convention Center at the eastern end." No transit service. Parking on the north side only. One lane of traffic each way.

Rapid Transit Street (green)

Assuming we have light rail, the GSMP locates it on Fourth (as City Hall has prescribed by ordinance) and Lavaca (still one of several options). Fourth is also now slated for the Lance Armstrong Bikeway -- originally to be on Third -- which makes it a bit crowded. The city's current proposed designs -- which have rail and cars sharing lanes in the middle -- are different from the GSMP, which puts the tracks along the sidewalks. Because Fourth has "almost continuous north-side loading docks," the sidewalks would be asymmetrical -- 16 feet on the north, 20 on the south -- but take up the same space. Transit lanes "would be identified by a change in paving color and texture."

Commuter Boulevard (red)

The GSMP identifies seven of these, including West Cesar Chavez, an idea dear to the heart of Great Streets planners -- "a civic-scaled divided boulevard that enables and celebrates the connection between Downtown Austin and Town Lake," featuring a grand "pedestrian promenade" on the lake side. Because these primary gateway streets vary widely now in their width, the Great Streets standards are less prescriptive, but all would have the requisite trees and sidewalks and landscaped medians -- as some of them, such as 12th, do now.

Commuter Street (orange)

The GSMP identifies eight of these, including Guadalupe, Fifth, and Seventh. These would serve to get cars in and out of downtown, but unlike the commuter boulevards they would retain the 44-foot curb-to-curb width -- two lanes of traffic in each direction. Generally, they would not have on-street parking, though "duck-in" parallel-parking bays could be included.

Bicycle and Local Access Street (light blue)

The GSMP identifies 10 of these, including Sixth, 11th (except past the State Capitol), and Trinity. They would have three lanes (either two-and-one or one-and-one plus turn lanes) and dedicated bike lanes, "form[ing] the primary bicycle commuter system" and "provid[ing] auto mobility within downtown, rather than [for] through traffic." Some would have "duck-in" parking.

Mixed-Mode street (yellow)

The most common Great Street type (there are 14) "best exemplifies the transportation mode hierarchy" that's now city policy -- first pedestrians, then transit, then bikes, and then cars. "The street is designed for slow-moving vehicles involved in street activity ... rather than through traffic." Mixed-mode streets have four-foot "safe zones" between the on-street parking and the travel lanes -- for use by bicycles or to protect people getting out of their cars -- which would be "marked by a change in paving color and bicycle-friendly texture."

Pedestrian and Bikeways (purple)

The "promenade-- envisioned for the lakefront side of Cesar Chavez -- an extra-wide Great Streets-style sidewalk -- would link to the existing Town Lake trails, and in turn to the Pfluger Bridge. The GSMP also proposes off-road linkages between Trinity and other designated bike-and-ped streets to the trail network.

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