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Reporter’s Notebook: Parking and … other … concerns

Monday, March 19, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Still hanging around… We have it to thank for our intimate knowledge of celebrities’ lunches, Capital Metro’s train delays and the president’s spontaneous thoughts, so why not also give Twitter pre-emptive credit for helping to establish a working urban cable transit system in Austin? That would at least be the will of Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea, who added South by Southwest panel moderator to her resume last week when she emceed a discussion titled “Overhead Transit: Cable, Hyperloop, PRT, and Drones.” True to its title, the discussion featured proponents of exotic modes of transit both foreign and fictive. Even as Project Connect zeros in on workable proposals for bus, light rail and commuter rail projects – conventional investments that have tremendous yield in cities across the globe – Shea encouraged her audience to lean on local leaders and press them to pursue the untested ideas her panelists put forth. “Tweet at Mayor Adler and urge him to really be a champion on this,” she cajoled. “He supports it, but we really need a champion.” A cursory review of the mayor’s mentions revealed that the first person to oblige Shea tweeted at Adler that it’s “time to get on the bus with #OverheadTransit options,” a sentiment of a nascent movement that we pledge to cover to its natural end.

Parking, lots… Starting today, visitors to City Hall will have their choice of how to get out. The change is an attempt to address rush hour congestion. From now on, people will be able to exit the garage onto Guadalupe or Lavaca streets, with the entrance to the garage remaining on Guadalupe. And, according to a memo from Austin Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar, “as part of the Annual Signal Retiming Program, Austin Transportation has adjusted signal timing to increase throughput for southbound traffic at nearby and downstream signals in order to improve the flow of traffic leaving Downtown during evening peak hours.” And if this is all confusing, fear not. For the first week of the change, parking enforcement officers will be on hand to direct traffic and help everyone acclimate to the change. In the meantime, feel free to study the map below.

… And, hey, speaking of parking and listening to complaints about parking, another memo from Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks attempts to get at the parking “challenges” at the new Central Library. Weeks explains that the library has 140 public parking spaces that are completely full by the time the library opens at 10 a.m. “due to non-library users parking in the garage and visiting other locations.” The memo explains that the garage is currently open to the public at all times and, in an attempt to make parking available to library customers, that is going to change. “To make parking available to library customers, we are going to open parking to the public starting at 9:30 a.m., effective March 12, 2018. We will post notices of this change at the entrance of the garage and at the pull station. The notices will be posted today, March 6, 2018, to allow non-library users to find alternative parking,” writes Weeks. “We believe making this small change will allow more library customers to park and visit the library. Please note that after 9:30 a.m., parking will be on a first come – first serve basis.”

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This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Caleb Pritchard and Elizabeth Pagano.

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