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Neighborhood lobbies for Pressler Street extension to Cesar Chavez

Monday, October 14, 2013 by Michael Kanin

Members of the Austin City Council’s Comprehensive Planning and Transportation Committee are set Wednesday to weigh in on a possible extension of Pressler Street through the Lamar Beach area. The move would connect the Original West Austin Neighborhood with West Cesar Chavez Street.


The Original West Austin Neighborhood Association passed a resolution on Sept. 3 that requests the project. Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, who chairs the committee, told In Fact Daily that the move would bring greater connectivity to the region.


“Following Imagine Austin’s goal of creating a more complete transportation system, this is part of an emerging concept to create and recreate connectivity throughout the region,” she said via email. “This north/south connection between MoPac and Lamar will provide another point of access for the residents of the Old West Austin Neighborhood.”


In its resolution, the neighborhood association also cited the prospect for what members cast as a safer route to area amenities. In so doing, it cites the neighborhood plan for the region. It says, “The Old West Austin Neighborhood Plan calls for greater connection and access to Lamar Beach Parkland, Lady Bird Lake, and Austin High School.”


The neighborhood plan states that there is currently no safe or easy way to access these areas by foot, bicycle or vehicle.


A set of active railroad tracks cut off the neighborhood from Cesar Chavez. The change might also provide easier access from the south for public safety vehicles in the event a train gets stuck on the tracks.


Should the full Council eventually sign off on the plan, it would call for road work in Lamar Beach Park. As such, the effort could require a Chapter 26 hearing in order to proceed.


Chapter 26 hearings are state mandated public hearings meant to decide whether the use of parkland for the project in question is appropriate. According to state law, a parkland taking associated with Chapter 26 can happen only if no other reasonable alternative exists for the project, and if project coordinators do their best to minimize any damage that might occur.


The OWANA resolution asks Council to approve a project that would include a pedestrian sidewalk and a bicycle path in addition to the road extension. It further requests “that traffic and parking in the area be monitored to manage and control prevent or minimize future problems.”


Assistant Transportation Department Director Gary Schatz is set to brief the Committee Wednesday on construction options.


Two six-story condominium projects are in the works for two lots on either side of the current Pressler Street dead end.

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