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City rushes to complete Red River improvements before concert crowds return

Friday, April 23, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

The city is working quickly to complete streetscape improvements to Red River Street, home to some of the city’s most renowned music venues, before flocks of concertgoers return as more and more people get vaccinated against Covid-19. 

“I don’t want to miss the opportunity to do this work while we don’t have a lot of traffic in those areas,” Mayor Steve Adler said.

Crews are set to start work this summer beautifying the dilapidated section of Red River between Sixth and 10th streets after City Council authorized a $1.15 million construction contract with ASD Consultants on Thursday.

By the end of the year, the segment will receive new ADA-compliant sidewalks, street trees, lighting, art and trash cans. The project will be funded by the Great Streets Program.

Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison urged city staffers to start the project without delay and to make sure construction doesn’t hurt businesses that have already taken a beating from the pandemic. These businesses, she said, are “a vital part of Austin’s identity” and “they don’t need any extra disruption from construction work that goes on longer than expected.”

The segment of Red River has been identified for improvements since at least 2013 – the year it was christened the Red River Cultural District in acknowledgement of its contribution to Austin’s cultural identity. Multiple resolutions since have pledged improvements, but due to lack of available funds, the work is only now getting underway.

“It’s taken a while,” Council Member Kathie Tovo said, recounting the years of work by the city and stakeholders to advance the project.

Business owners have long complained about the state of the streetscape. Some improvements to the area have already been completed, including sidewalk improvements near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and alleyway gates and fences. Three public restrooms are also slated for the area, but have not yet been installed. In a separate project a bit further north, Red River is being realigned between 12th and 32nd streets so it fits neatly on the street grid.

The city says to expect temporary lane and sidewalk closures as the construction proceeds in phases. Below are the preliminary plans:

Download (PDF, 4.01MB)

Photo by Nash Cook made available by a Creative Commons license.

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