Project Connect early designs tease ‘pedestrian dominant’ 4th Street

by AryanArtnews
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Austin (KXAN) — At a preliminary design workshop on Tuesday, the leader of the Project Connect program outlined the vision of a pedestrian-centric Force Street Corridor as part of the upcoming blue line light rail.

As of 2019, about 24% of residents walked, biked, rode public transport, or used other non-unique vehicle transportation options to work. City leaders have set a goal for 50% of residents to use multi-modal transportation options by 2039.

In addition to that goal, there will be a need for more equitable and expanded options for the population, officials said Tuesday.

Reserved on the Republic and Brush Square, with the Texas State Capitol grounds to the north, and tees on Tuesday, Force Street’s pre-design concept is outdoor cafe seats, pedestrian and bike-centric sidewalks and lanes, and buses. For a roadway that was supposed to be a promenade-like cityscape with space for.

(Courtesy: Austin Transit Partnership, Capital Metro, Austin City)

The activation of Force Street, dubbed the “pedestrian-dominated” corridor by program officials, is one element of the $ 7.1 billion public transport overhaul via Project Connect. Transportation programs and subsequent design proposals are in the midst of a city-led push for multi-modal transportation options.

Sources of inspiration included the current elements of downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, Denver’s 16th Avenue Transit Mall, and Austin’s Second Street.

What design elements are you considering?

With an emphasis on multimodal access to roads beyond traditional vehicle traffic, the early design features mentioned included:

  • Expanded sidewalks and paved roads to traditional street centers to accommodate stairs to escalators, elevators and light rail platforms
  • Additional outdoor seating for cafes, restaurants and shops with Force Street frontage
  • Bus-oriented vehicle traffic, partly along the frontage to the business loading zone and garage access
  • Approval of closed roads for events, programmed urban activities
  • Natural light function of subway concourse
  • Retail kiosk along the street
  • Locally produced public art along the streets

Businesses along Force Street that require vehicle access, although some form of traffic control may be in place, include Hotel Zaza, 301 Congress Parking Garage, Frostbank Tower Garage, and Courtyard Marriott Valet Parking System. It will be.

At peak travel times, about 500 vehicles pass through Force Street, according to data compiled by city officials. By comparison, Cesar Chavez Street has recorded about 2,000 vehicle trips at the peak of its travels.

(Courtesy: Austin Transit Partnership, Capital Metro, Austin City)
(Courtesy: Austin Transit Partnership, Capital Metro, Austin City)

The ideal vision of the Force Street Corridor under the initial design is to create it as a “green spine” where two squares are intertwined with the Texas Capitol and the rest of the downtown corridor. Peter Mullan, Head of Architecture and Urban Design for the Austin Transit Partnership, said the emphasis on accessibility and mobility with multimodal transit options is essential to planning.

“We want people to hang out and make sure this is a calm street,” he said.

“This isn’t just about movement, it’s creating a place for people with identities,” he added later. “It has a unique identity, is recognizable and easy to read. The short distance between Brush Square and Republic Square will give you the opportunity to create it along Force Street.”

Aerial concept sketch "Green spine," Force Street connects the two squares, the Texas Capitol grounds and the rest of the downtown corridor.  (Courtesy: Austin Transit Partnership, Capital Metro, Austin City)
An aerial concept sketch of a “green spine” connecting the Texas Capitol grounds to the rest of the downtown corridor via Force Street. (Courtesy: Austin Transit Partnership, Capital Metro, Austin City)

What is the history of Austin’s Force Street?

Force Street extends nine blocks from Shoal Creek to Downtown Station near Trinity Street. Historically, the area was a warehouse district that was home to industrial uses related to freight railroads.

In the 1980s, it moved to the city’s major red-light districts and became a central hub for Austin’s LGBTQ + historic heritage and community.

It is important for architect and urban designer Jana McCann working on the project to take these historical heritage of the region into account when establishing a sense of design and location for future use. Said.

What is the next step?

Authorities call Force Street a “new” pedestrian-dominated boulevard in Austin, which blends the upcoming underground light rail station with a rejuvenated above-ground look.

As of Tuesday, about 15% of the project design is complete. Authorities are currently in the 30% design phase and will incorporate feedback into the 30% phase and future environmental impact statements.

These factors are expected to be put together in the spring, along with an initial cost estimate.

“All of this needs to work together,” says Mullan. “This is a comprehensive and global mobility infrastructure program.”

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