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Congress protected lane pilot to get permanent upgrade

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 by Ryan Thornton

As some local active mobility advocates anticipated, the city has decided to keep the protected bike lanes on Congress Avenue between Riverside Drive and 11th Street following the summer pilot. Beginning next week, the Austin Transportation Department will kick off a monthlong process of replacing the orange traffic cones currently separating general traffic from the bike lanes with flex posts and parking stops as permanent barriers. The project also includes protected intersection designs at Riverside Drive, Barton Springs Road, Third Street and 11th Street, as well as new left turn lanes and signal phases at Cesar Chavez Street, Fifth Street and Sixth Street. Right-turn lanes will also be added on Cesar Chavez Street, Barton Springs Road and Riverside Drive. Council Member Kathie Tovo, sponsor of the summer pilot, said it’s “exciting to quickly transition to a permanent design that builds on the success of the temporary bike lanes.” The protected lanes, she said, will provide a “safer, more comfortable option” for the millions of people who walk, roll and bike along Congress Avenue every year. The plans are even popular with at least one local business along the corridor. Jim Ritts, CEO of Paramount Theatre, said the summer pilot “demonstrated how much more accessible and safer Congress Avenue could be for everyone” and that the permanent lanes “will improve the quality of life” downtown.

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