$5M Fifth Street facelift focuses on transportation hub

East Fifth Street (Kate Weidaw/KXAN)

Some major improvements are about to be unveiled on East Fifth Street — all thanks to money from a 2006 voter-approved bond.

The improvements were made within a seven-block area between Interstate 35 and Onion Street — an area that has been rapidly changing with new apartments, bars, and more people catching MetroRail from Plaza Saltillo.

Before the improvements, this street didn’t have sidewalks or curbs, but as part of the Imagine Austin plan, city officials hope to turn East Fifth Street into a transportation hub.

With Plaza Saltillo at its center, the goal with the new sidewalks, widened street, new lighting, and bike racks is to make East Fifth Street a place people can easily walk, bike, or catch public transportation to their destination — no car needed.

In the last year, major changes have been under way in this area–  with a brand new apartment building going up and Capital Metro looking to develop its property along the rail line.

City officials believe that in order to bring in development, the infrastructure needs to be in place.

“It makes the area more attractive to developers, kind of like Seventh Street and the development we did over there,” said Clay Harris, project manager with the Public Works Department.

The city is hosting a community festival Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Plaza Saltillo Station.

This project cost the city $5 million from a 2006 bond. At that time, voters approved $567.4 million to cover everything from transportation to parks and cultural facilities.

However, nowhere in the description of the projects does it mention revitalizing East Fifth Street.

City officials would like to extend the improvements all the way down to Pleasant Valley Road, like they did on East Seventh Street. Yet, that would require another bond election.

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