AUSTIN (KXAN) — Congress Avenue is one of most recognizable streets in Texas; providing iconic views of the Capitol and Lady Bird Lake. It is hard to imagine topping the beauty, but the city of Austin and the Downtown Austin Alliance have their sights on taking Congress Avenue to the next level for both Austinites and tourists.
Serving as a primary connector into downtown, the city of Austin is looking to improve the road aesthetically, help traffic flow and make it a better road, not just for Austin, but the State of Texas overall.
Over the next nine months, the city, paired with the Downtown Austin Alliance, will gather feedback from business owners and Austinites about what they think will make Congress Avenue even better from Riverside Drive to the Capitol.
Some Austinites KXAN spoke with think adding bicycle lanes or widening the sidewalks along the road would be beneficial.
Others felt that isn’t the only option, “I think making it more car friendly would bring more people down here. I think there’s a push to get it more pedestrian friendly and anti-car but unless you live down here you are shielded from coming downtown.”
Public Works Project Manager, David Taylor, says this is already on the list of things the city would like to see added on Congress. “Streets serve all the different needs it has, whether it’s vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles. We feel the need to try and develop better and safer for the bicyclists to move through Congress Avenue.”
Taylor says that a part of this outreach is making sure that Congress Avenue meets current road requirements that can withstand future growth.
“There’s been a lot of initiatives in the last 10-20 years about clean and sustainable streets and Congress Avenue, because it was planned almost 40 years ago, is somewhat behind meeting those standards.”
Vice President of Economic Development with the Downtown Austin Alliance, Michele Van Hyfte says that, since 2010, the DAA has been holding public engagement events to determine what people think would take Congress Avenue to the next level. She says that overall they’ve found that people really want to feel connected to other people.
“A good mix of different types of businesses that give you opportunities to be a resident, be an employee and get what you need done if you live here or work here, as well as needs that tourists have,” she explains. “We draw so many people from Texas and all over the world, we want to be able to capture as much as we can so that it benefits our city.”
Even with the popularity of the Congress Bridge, Taylor says it’s not entirely pedestrian friendly.
“The bridge itself is very utilitarian. Not pedestrian friendly,” he says, “We are looking for the possibility of making improvements there and the connections that go down to the trails around the lake.”
Amanda Dugan will be on KXAN News at 5 p.m. with a look why the city wants to improve Congress Avenue.