AUSTIN (KXAN) — Monday marks the first day back to school for Austin students. But for some, it’ll be a little more stressful than planned. A construction project that was supposed to be finished before school started isn’t ready. We’re talking about water line repairs happening off Far West Boulevard, near Doss Elementary School and Murchison Middle School.
“Well it’s a little stressful, for sure,” Doss Elementary School Principal Janna Griffin told KXAN Friday, preparing for the wave of students and parents set to return to school on a road in the midst of active construction.
Cars, kids, bikers, walkers, closed sidewalks. It’s an image the city didn’t want to picture, but now has to prepare for.
“There is no question it is tight,” Austin Water’s Jason Hill said. “We know that we have slipped over into an area where we wanted to avoid and that’s the beginning of the school year.
Council Member Sheri Gallo says she pushed the city to fast-track the project, but other factors got in the way.
“The dilemma with this one is, number one, it got started a little bit later than expected and then second, we’ve had a really wet August,” Gallo said, encouraging drivers to be extremely careful in the area.
“We’re almost there, we’re almost at the finish line there. You know, we had delays over the summertime, some design issues and things that needed to be worked out, we had some traffic concerns also that we had to work through. Projects like this, when you go back in the ground and you’re laying new water lines you have all the other utilities, you have planning, you go in and sometimes it doesn’t look exactly the way you think it would look so things had to be redesigned, we’re about two projects away from actual completion,” Hill said.
Austin Water says staff members and APD officers will be out in the area Monday morning, helping direct traffic and safety navigate families.
“I think that’s going to be huge and that’s just a sign of support to my community that ‘hey, we realize this is a pain for y’all and we’re gonna do what we can to help you out,’” Griffin said.
She encourages kids to connect with their parents and get creative with different routes to school to avoid Far West Blvd.
“I know some families are worried about it, I’m a little stressed, but I’m just going to encourage everybody to hang in there, take your time, get to school safely, and we’ll all adjust to the new schedule,” Griffin said.
The city expects the project to be complete by September 15, but more rain could push that date back again. We asked about other construction delays that could impact specific school zones, but Austin Water said nothing compares to the project on Far West.