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Updated: Car-free Congress Ave.

Monday, June 19, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

The Main Street of Texas could soon borrow a page from the French, if Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo has her way. The District 9 City Council member is planning on introducing a proposal at Thursday’s meeting that could clear all cars from a lengthy stretch of Congress Avenue, at least for one as-yet-undetermined day next year. The item would direct the city manager to explore the costs of the proposal, which is aimed at paving the way for what would be Bike Austin’s largest-ever Ciclovia, an event focused on spreading the gospel of two-wheeled transportation. However, the scale of this proposed Ciclovia would also allow for a much larger outdoor party in general: Tovo is looking to ban cars from Congress Avenue from 11th Street all the way down to Mary Street, a total distance of about two miles.The proposal is reminiscent of action other cities have taken to occasionally reclaim streets for pedestrians and bicyclists, include the monthly car bans on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees. Tovo’s office tells the Austin Monitor that major stakeholders are on board, including the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, the South River City Citizens Neighborhood Association, South Congress Merchants Association and the Downtown Austin Alliance. If Council approves the mayor pro tem’s resolution on Thursday, the city manager would bring a full report back on Oct. 1.

Update: Tovo’s office told the Monitor on Monday afternoon that the Mayor Pro Tem has decided to ask the city manager to report back to Council on Sept. 1 in order for Council to have the information well in hand ahead of budget adoption later that month.

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