Bus lanes on Guadalupe, Lavaca get emergency repaving

On Tuesday, June 20, the Public Works Department began emergency spot repairs of pavement on the Guadalupe and Lavaca bus lanes from 2nd Street to 18th Street due to major pavement problems. (KXAN Photo/Tom Rapp)
On Tuesday, June 20, the Public Works Department began emergency spot repairs of pavement on the Guadalupe and Lavaca bus lanes from 2nd Street to 18th Street due to major pavement problems. (KXAN Photo/Tom Rapp)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — You’ll need to rethink your route if you frequent the Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets in the downtown Austin area from 2nd to 18th Streets.

If you are in that area frequently, you may have had concerns about the well-being of your vehicle due to all the potholes and damage to the road. The city now says the pavement is failing due to the large amount of bus traffic moving through the area every day.

The pavement, in some areas, is deteriorating at such a fast pace that the city is beginning Tuesday with emergency repairs, entailing the removal of the existing asphalt and subgrade material, and replacing it with a new, more robust pavement structure.

Capital Metro shared with KXAN a typical 40-foot bus, fully loaded, weighs 39,000 lbs–which is nearly 20 tons. The 60-foot MetroRapid bus weighs 58,600 pounds fully loaded. All that weight is taking a toll on the roads.

“I think as a lot of people know, the conditions on Guadalupe have been deteriorating for a while,” Alexandria Bruton, with Public Works said. “The repairs right now are our highest priority.”

But the repairs aren’t permanent.

“These are semi-permanent repairs. They’ll last for six to eight years and hopefully we’ll get a full reconstruction of Guadalupe using some of the 2016 bond funding,” Bruton said.

There are plans to mill and overlay the dedicated bus lane with a thicker asphalt surface late next year, but beyond that, right now the funding simply isn’t there. The city says the bond funding could help cover the cost of a permanent, heavy-duty bus lane design in the next five to six years.

“Guadalupe just wasn’t built for these conditions,” Bruton said. “Repairs on the Drag will probably start in July and go through August. We’re hoping to get that completed before school starts at UT again.”

Juliet Walker, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin sure hopes so.

“If they’re doing stuff during the day and all the students are here, it’s gonna be a nightmare,” she said. “I try to avoid this road a lot because I have a daughter that experiences motion sickness.”

KXAN asked for a breakdown of service requests from Public Works and learned in the last year, there were 10 more pavement failure complaints [cracking or depressions] on this section of road than the year before. As for potholes, repair requests doubled along Guadalupe in the last three years.

“There’s no question that something needs to be done, it needs some repair,” Walker said.

Work hours will be Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Lane reductions will be in effect for both north and sound bound traffic until 4 p.m. Repairs are expected to be finished by the end of the month but you will need to drive slowly when making your way through the area. For ways to check in on the project’s progress, click here. 

While this road repair is a major emergency project, Austin’s Public Works Department has numerous preventative maintenance repaving projects slated throughout the year. The city has a map to find out if your street is scheduled for work this year.

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