Capitol corridor snag fault of engineers and designers, mayor says

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Capitol View Corridor snag is not expected to delay next year’s opening of the Waller Creek Tunnel project.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell said Friday he thinks the issue will be solved amicably and without delay despite the city council action to approve up to $1.8 million for legal fees.

“In the event we have to go to court, we wanted to prepare for that,” said Leffingwell. “We do not anticipate that money will actually be spent.”

Capitol view corridorThe precaution was taken because the city recently discovered the Waller Creek intake facility project taking place at Waterloo Park would violate a viewing corridor to the Texas State Capitol building. There are 30 viewing corridors which protect scenic views of the building by regulating the height of buildings based on location and distance to the Capitol dome.

Leffingwell said the current design is approximately five feet over the allowable height and is in an obscure corridor which may have led to the oversight.

“The engineers and designers are responsible for the error, in my opinion,” Leffingwell said.

Kellogg, Brown and Root along with Espey construction are the firms constructing the facility and council member Kathie Tovo believes the building can be redesigned without starting from scratch.

“The project does need to be redesigned so that it complies with local and state code and I believe firmly and I’m confident the engineers will be able to do that,” said Tovo, who believes viewpoints to the Capitol should not be sacrificed to accommodate for growth.

“It is a community value and it is one recognized by legislature to protect the view of the capitol.”

But the hiccup is indicative of a bigger problem according to Dan Keshet with Austinites for Urban Rail Action.

“Austin has so many regulations that prevent new homes and offices from being built,” said Keshet. “(The city) is having trouble following their own rules, just imagine how hard it is when you are not with the city.”

Although the city enforces the corridor restrictions, only the legislature can make corridor adjustments or exceptions.

Amendments have been made in past years for specific projects including the Mueller development, the 11th Street renewal project, and renovations to Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium.

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