AUSTIN, Texas – A plan to revamp Guadalupe Street through West Campus has critics, including Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, blasting it.
"Wonder why Austin roads are more congested," Abbott asked followers on his personal Twitter account. "Because of policies like this that reduce car lanes."
The City of Austin plans to replace a vehicle lane in each direction with a bus lane. Regular traffic would only be allowed to use the inside lane, and a protected bike lane would run along the shoulder of the roadway in each direction.
Austin transportation officials said no scenario showed any improvement for vehicular traffic. They even tried moving buses off Guadalupe Street, but that only created more pedestrian traffic trying to cross the four-lane road.
"Our focus shifted to, 'Well if we can't really vehicle travel times through here--single-passenger cars--what can we do that would most sufficiently move the most people through here," said Lee Austin of the Austin Transportation Department.
IN-DEPTH | Guadalupe Corridor Plan
The plan also removes parking from Guadalupe Street. Austin said the parallel parking spaces only accommodate a few dozen people an hour and inhibit the city's ability to create a wider sidewalk on the eastern side of the street and a northbound protected bike lane.
Austin said the only way to improve vehicle traffic is to significantly widen the road.
"[Community members] don't want a six-lane roadway through Austin," said Austin. "We don't want to just destroy and demolish buildings and keep the Drag from being what it is currently, which is a destination place for students as well as citizens of Austin."
Along with Abbott, Austin resident Mike Levy opposes the plan. The West Austin resident funded several campaigns in 2016 against the bond proposition that will ultimately fund the Guadalupe Street improvements.
"It reflects on just the sheer arrogance of city staff," said Levy about the plan.
Levy said the proposal is a direct contradiction to promises by Mayor Steve Adler and other elected leaders that the bond-funded projects would not remove any lanes from Austin roads.
"Reduction of lanes? Not exactly," Levy said. "We are going to have bus lanes instead of vehicle lanes, but are we going to lose vehicle lanes? It is happening already."
The project will cost $33.7 million. The Austin City Council will rank this and several other road improvement projects next spring.