South Lamar Boulevard (Riverside Drive to US 290)
Thank you to all who participated in the South Lamar Boulevard virtual public hearing, which was held from July 15 to July 30. The summary report for the public hearing, including responses to the 250 public comments that were received, is available for review here.
About the Virtual Public Hearing
The City of Austin completed an environmental analysis to understand the potential impacts of proposed mobility, safety and connectivity improvements for the South Lamar Boulevard corridor. The analysis was conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the South Lamar Boulevard corridor, which is a state-owned roadway.
The public hearing was held from Wednesday, July 15, 2020 through 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The public had the opportunity to review information and reports on this website, watch a presentation about the results of the environmental analyses, and provide comments.
Watch the public hearing presentation:
We greatly appreciate that so many community members participated in the virtual public hearing, taking time to review the mobility and safety improvements for the South Lamar Boulevard corridor, which are funded for construction through the 2016 Mobility Bond. See the Mobility and Safety Improvements section below for more information about the funded and unfunded improvements.
We recorded more than 6,200 English and Spanish-language web page views and received 250 public comments. Responses to each comment are included in the public hearing summary report, and the common comment themes are summarized below.
A desire that the funded improvements have separate bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and a landscape buffer (including street trees) to separate them from vehicular traffic.
There is funding available to construct the City’s ultimate vision for urban corridors on South Lamar Boulevard from Riverside Drive to Barton Springs Road. This includes separate two-way bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and a landscape buffer with trees on both sides of the road.
From Barton Springs Road to US 290, right-of-way is more constrained so cyclists and pedestrians will utilize shared-use paths on both sides of the road. Shared-use paths will be behind the curb (raised and separated from vehicular lanes by a minimum 2-foot buffer). In areas where there is sufficient right-of-way or in partnership with private developments, separate bicycle and pedestrian facilities and landscaped areas will be designed and constructed.
Acquiring additional right-of-way would add significant costs to the project and would increase the associated impacts to property owners and local businesses. The shared-use paths can be repurposed to accommodate separate bicycle lanes, sidewalks and landscaped areas if the City secures additional funding and through future redevelopments.
Concern about the existing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure on South Lamar and related safety issues.
With 2016 Mobility Bond funds, the Corridor Program Office will design and construct projects that will significantly improve safety, mobility and connectivity for everyone who uses South Lamar Boulevard, including those biking and walking the corridor. Improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians that are raised and separated from vehicular traffic by a buffer will be added to both sides of South Lamar Boulevard between Riverside Drive and US 290. Depending on the location, cyclists and pedestrians will travel on shared use paths or sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes.
FUNDED IMPROVEMENTS: If environmental clearance is received, improvements between Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road will go to construction as early as winter 2020. When completed, this segment will exemplify the City’s ultimate vision for urban corridors. See the Mobility and Safety Improvements section below for a list of projects.
For the South Lamar Boulevard segment between Barton Springs Road and US 290, final design is underway on the funded improvements. Construction is anticipated on these projects in fall 2022.
UNFUNDED IMPROVEMENTS: If the City secures funding for the unfunded improvements, the Corridor Program Office will initiate a full design process to refine the projects and prepare them for construction. Full design would include community engagement, as well as coordination with various City departments and partner agencies, including Capital Metro, as well as the Texas Department of Transportation.
We encourage the community to remain engaged in future planning efforts for the South Lamar Boulevard corridor. You can stay informed about our progress on the funded improvements and be notified of any new developments regarding the unfunded improvements by signing up to receive updates here.
Notice of Availability
The City of Austin conducted an environmental analysis to understand the potential impacts of the proposed mobility, safety and connectivity improvements for the South Lamar Boulevard corridor. The analysis was conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the South Lamar Boulevard corridor, which is a state-owned roadway. The results of the analysis have been used to help refine the improvement projects to reduce impacts.
Beginning on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the City of Austin made the environmental reports available for public review, as well as the proposed design of the improvements between Riverside Drive and US 290.
The City of Austin is pursuing environmental clearance for all South Lamar Boulevard improvements between Riverside Drive and US 290 that are recommended in the Corridor Mobility Plan for South Lamar Boulevard that was completed in April 2016. This includes improvements that have been funded by the 2016 Mobility Bond, as well as improvements that are not yet funded. Achieving environmental clearance for all improvements will enable the City of Austin to construct them when future funding sources are secured.
When completing the environmental analyses, the City of Austin evaluated potential impacts that could result from both the funded and unfunded improvements.
The City of Austin considered biological resources, hazardous materials, community impacts, water resources, air quality, as well as archaeological and historical resources. Click on the links below to review the findings of each report:
Purpose and Need
The purpose of the proposed project is to improve mobility and safety on South Lamar Boulevard between Riverside Drive and US 290.
According to crash data collected by Austin Transportation, 2,173 crashes occurred over the last five years. Those crashes resulted in 4 fatalities, 21 serious injuries, and involved 53 bicyclists and 46 pedestrians.
Over 40,000 vehicles travel this major Austin roadway each day, and there are over 220 access driveways in approximately 3.3 miles, causing additional safety concerns.
Currently, there are no bicycle facilities from Barton Springs Road to Riverside Drive. From US 290 to Barton Springs Road, bike lanes are unprotected and on-street on both sides of South Lamar Boulevard.
The existing sidewalks are continuous; however, some areas need repair. Additionally, not all curb ramps are accessible due to sidewalk configurations or utility poles.
Mobility and Safety Improvements
If the projects receive environmental clearance, some of the proposed mobility, safety, and connectivity improvements will be constructed using funds from the voter-approved 2016 Mobility Bond. The projects are expected to improve approximately 3.3-miles of South Lamar Boulevard between Riverside Drive and US 290 for everyone, whether they walk, bike, drive or take transit.
Funded improvements from Riverside Drive to Barton Springs Road
This project would provide critical mobility and safety improvements, and reflect the ultimate corridor vision for South Lamar Boulevard:
- Upgraded traffic signals at Riverside Drive, Toomey Road and Barton Springs Road
- Pavement rehabilitation and relocation of the existing curb closer to the centerline of the roadway by removing the right-turn lanes on both sides
- Addition of two-way bicycle lanes and a continuous ADA-compliant sidewalk behind the curb on both sides of South Lamar Boulevard
- Access management improvements including modifying driveways and reconstructing center medians
- Drainage improvements
- Bus stop improvements in partnership with Capital Metro
- Enhanced landscaping with a variety of plantings and tree species, street lighting, and streetscape improvements
View the funded improvements for South Lamar Boulevard between Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road.
Funded improvements from Barton Springs Road to US 290
This project would provide critical mobility and safety improvements:
- 13 existing traffic signals would be enhanced with upgraded technology
- Two new traffic signals at Del Curto Road and Evergreen Avenue
- Four new pedestrian hybrid beacons
(mid-block signalized cross-walks) located at Oxford Avenue, Dickson Drive, West Oak Drive and near
the Post Apartments.
- Intersection improvements at Barton Skyway, Menchaca Road, Bluebonnet Lane, Oltorf Street, and Evergreen Avenue; will include improved crossing conditions and connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists, including enhanced and separated facilities
- Pavement rehabilitation and relocation of the existing curb closer to the centerline of the roadway
- New shared-use paths for pedestrians and cyclists on both sides of South Lamar Boulevard that will comply with ADA guidelines
- Access management improvements such as intermittent-raised medians in some locations and driveway modifications
- Drainage improvements
- Bus stop improvements in partnership with Capital Metro, including a new dedicated transit priority lane northbound through the intersections at Barton Skyway and Menchaca Road
The City of Austin has also evaluated the environmental impacts of additional improvements outside the existing right of way in this same segment of South Lamar Boulevard between Barton Springs Road and US 290. These currently unfunded improvements reflect the ultimate corridor vision and could be constructed if funding sources are identified:
- Separate pedestrian and bicycle facilities
- Streetscape and landscaping with trees
- Enhanced Street lighting
Tentative Project Schedule
If the projects receive environmental clearance by Fall 2020, design and construction could progress according to this tentative schedule:
- Anticipated environmental clearance: Fall 2020
- Riverside Drive to Barton Springs Road:
- Final design plans: Summer 2020
- Construction start: Winter 2020
- Barton Springs Road to US 290:
- Funded improvements
- Final design plans: Fall 2021
- Construction start: Fall 2022
- Unfunded improvements
- Final design plans and construction start dependent on funding availability
Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren’t all improvements funded for construction?
Austin voters approved funding for mobility and safety improvements throughout the city when they passed the 2016 Mobility Bond. $482 million was dedicated to nine corridors, including South Lamar Boulevard. This provides funding to construct some, but not all, of the improvements that are recommended for each roadway in corridor mobility plans. The City of Austin intends to build the unfunded improvements when future funding sources become available. Achieving environmental clearance for all improvements now is necessary to do that.
Are the designs for the improvements final?
No. The designs available as part of this public hearing reflect preliminary project plans. The final design phase of work is currently underway, which includes ongoing evaluations, additional surveying, meetings with affected property owners, and partner agency coordination. Some design details will be refined before construction. If you have questions about the project plans or how they may affect your property, you may contact the Corridor Program Office at SouthLamar@AustinTexas.gov or 512-974-7904.
Why are medians being added to South Lamar and why are some driveways being modified or removed?
Left-hand turns are difficult to make on South Lamar Boulevard. The continuous center-running lane and numerous driveways means drivers make left turns whenever and wherever they can. This increases the risk of collisions with oncoming traffic, drivers traveling from behind, and with cyclists and pedestrians crossing driveways. Adding medians and modifying driveways will help define where left turns should occur and reduce potential crash points, making South Lamar Boulevard safer to travel for everyone.
Why don’t the project schematics show all developments that are planned or underway?
We are aware of all developments that are planned and underway throughout the corridor. We work directly with developers as those plans are approved to ensure the proposed mobility improvements are included in their site plans and the final constructed improvements on the ground are connected. The schematics were finalized in 2019 and therefore do not reflect all developments that have been planned since then.
What does it mean if the proposed improvements are on my property?
If a proposed improvement is on your property, the Corridor Program Office will be in contact soon to discuss the proposed improvements in relation to your property and what next steps look like.
Why does the bicycle lane trigger a public hearing?
The Texas Department of Transportation requires a public hearing for any improvements that substantially change the function of a road. In this case, the addition of a bicycle lane in some areas (whether funded or unfunded) will change the function of South Lamar Boulevard by designating a portion of the roadway for exclusive bicycle use.
Are the funded and unfunded plans consistent with Project Connect?
Yes. The City of Austin has been coordinating closely with Capital Metro to align the funded and unfunded transit supportive improvements to support both existing and planned transit service, and we will continue to do as we move forward with the Corridor Construction Program. These improvements are consistent with the adopted Locally Preferred Alternative for Project Connect, which identifies South Lamar Boulevard as part of the MetroRapid Corridor Long Term Vision.
Are all Corridor Mobility Plan recommendations included in the funded or unfunded improvements?
City staff used the vision and recommendations from the 2016 South Lamar Corridor Mobility Plan as the basis for formulating potential construction projects that could be completed in the 8-year timeframe set forth by City Council. In addition, staff considered feasible improvements that could be included for implementation on TxDOT-owned roadway facilities. This project development phase occurred in 2017 after passage of the 2016 Mobility Bond. While projects in the Corridor Construction Program were drawn from plan recommendations, the 2016 South Lamar Corridor Mobility Plan itself, including the long-term vision and recommendations, remains unchanged.