Lavaca – Off road slalom course

Next week sees the much heralded launch of the “rapid bus” in Austin. That’s a subject of

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huge importance and not to mention, massive debate and possibly deception. In order to prepare for this, the city has been making major changes, especially downtown creating priority lanes for buses, and new bike lanes.

What is abundantly clear is the main in town south north route, Lavaca won’t be ready. While the priority lanes were being created, there has been major sewer work going on, the road surface has been ripped up, not just re-striped, lanes have been out for days just to accommodate a portable toilet.

At least as far as I read it back in August, the city was supposed to have been finished at the end of September. Today it took me a record time to get to 24th/MLK from my street off South 1st, just a mile from city hall. 23-minutes, at a walking pace of 4.5MPH, but sadly, in my car.

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I took this picture this morning while stationary at 10th St. 1-mile traveled, 17-minutes, 6MPH. Prior to the roadwork starting it took just 7-minutes most days to get across the S 1st St bridge, up the synchronized lights on Lavaca to 24th/MLK. There was no point in speeding as you’d just reach a light just before it would change, or just after.

I wrote to the Austin works department asking about this a few weeks back and was told the repairs and upgrades won’t be finished until April. The email helpful included the following reasons for the problems

it is important to note that there is a large amount of private construction taking place on Lavaca as well.  Public Works’ Street and Bridge crews are working diligently to complete the street resurfacing of Lavaca in anticipation of the Bus Rapid Transit kickoff date of January 26; however, due to unforeseen utility conflicts, inclement weather and special events the schedule has had to be revised with an anticipated completion date of April 2014.

This is another example of small city planning, big city desires. For the major routes, private work needs to be totally coordinated with public works. Major lanes and blocks of the major north/south route should NOT be out for this long, let alone with lanes closed for a whole block just to accommodate a porta potty. Anyway, whatever Mike thinks, whatever the truth, RapidBus won’t be rapid on Lavaca anytime soon.

Author: Mark Cathcart

Formerly an Executive Director of Systems Engineering and a Senior Distinguished Engineer at Dell. Prior to that, an IBM Distinguished Engineer working for the Systems Group in NY and Austin. I'm currently "retired until further notice".

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