Cap Metro Creates New Way to Get to Campus

Streamlining the passage from Downtown to the Drag

Council Member Kathie Tovo & Mayor Steve Adler took a Cap Metro bus tour of the improvements on Aug. 16. (Photo by John Anderson)

City and Capital Metro leaders on Friday, Aug. 16, cut the ribbon on a small but significant stretch of pavement in Austin's mobility network – a new transit alignment to streamline the passage from Downtown to the Drag. The street grid at the southwest corner of the UT campus has been misaligned at MLK Boulevard for well over a century, and its designed-for-cars configuration slows down Cap Metro's busiest bus routes. So now it's different!

Specifically, buses using the existing northbound transit lane on Lavaca now have a protected left turn onto one-way westbound 18th Street, and then a contra-flow lane through the intersection on Guadalupe. To help out Austin's easily confused drivers, these bus-only stretches are now painted bright red, and other lane markings should help make this second nature to campus-bound car commuters. Both Austin Transportation and Capital Metro want there to be fewer of those, and the project also includes upgrades for walkers and bikers.

This is the first completed project from the Corridor Construction Program that comprises the lion's share ($482 million, of which $19.8 million is earmarked for the Drag) of the city's 2016 Mobility Bond package. Capital Metro says the Guadalupe/MLK connector will speed up bus transit by about 18%, shaving a full minute off trips, or two hours of travel time a year for the thousands of riders who travel this corridor daily, which helps nudge more people out of cars and closer to the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan's goals for major transportation mode shifts by 2039. A much bigger step will be getting those transit users out of traffic on the Drag via whatever emerges as the Project Connect Orange Line, coming to your ballot box in 2020.

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Capital Metro, Austin's mobility network, Austin Transportation, Corridor Construction Program, 2016 Mobility Bond, Austin Strategic Mobility Plan

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