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Why the new library is in the wrong place

Since this has come up again recently, I thought I'd put together a better background piece than this old one. I've co-opted an image from one of the proposals for the new central library for this and added some lines. The thick green line is the major transit corridor of Congress Avenue. The thinner cyan lines are substantial transit corridors on Guadalupe/Lavaca and 5th/6th that carry at least a handful of bus routes (basically, the 5th/6th corridor carries the Dillo, the #21/#22 that circulates all over central and east Austin, the #4, and a flyer; the Guadalupe/Lavaca corridor carries all the 183 express buses and a couple of flyers, and Colorado carries a few mainline routes). This image does the best job so far of showing the problem with the new library's location - the secondary transit corridors are now several blocks away, and the one that carries 90% of the bus routes in the city is arguably too far away to walk, at least for those not in good physical condition (it'd be a bit far for me at this point).

No, there aren't many buses on Cesar Chavez, especially not over by the new library location - it's pretty much just the #3, which runs through north central and south Austin.

And, no, for the fifteenth time, there aren't going to be a lot of shifts in transit routes to come over to the new library. See the body of water to the south? See the lack of bridges farther west than the Guadalupe/Lavaca couplet? Get it?

So what about streetcar, if it ever happens? Problem is that the streetcar line is equivalent to one bus route - the light blue lines on this map are corridors which carry several bus routes that go several different places. If you happen to be among the small part of residential Austin initially served by the streetcar proposal, great, but otherwise you're looking at a two-leg transit ride to get to the library at best. The yellow line shows the streetcar proposal, if it ever happens, and if it ever makes it across Shoal Creek, the latter question being far more doubtful than the former.

This entry was posted in the following categories: 2008 Light Rail , Austin , I Told You So , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Transit in Austin , Transportation , Urban Design , Walking in Austin (Pedestrian Issues)


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Sure seems like a good site to me. Beautiful views, right on the trail where all the parents walking their kids are. Transit is an important consideration, but not the only one.

If the MetroRapid lines ever actually happen, both are slated to stop at Guadalupe and 2nd, and the Burnet/South Lamar line will stop at Seaholm itself. Today, if you aren't coming from a park and ride, it looks like you have a 2-3 block walk to the library from Colorado or Congress. With the new library and MetroRapid, you'll have a 0-3 block walk from the north or south and a 3-4 block walk from the east or west, unless you're unlucky enough to only be near the 2 or the 6, which looks like a 7 block walk if you don't transfer. It doesn't require a lot of shifts to fix that last problem, especially since those lines don't cross the river in the first place. In the end, the new location will probably only end up being a block further in most scenarios, and with a high frequency line going right past the library (which doesn't happen today), it'll probably even out.

natrius, you're right on the route - I missed the new map that shows the #1 equivalent never hitting North Congress. If that's the case, then the new library is still much worse than the old one, because you're effectively bringing the #1 as close as the #3 is to the current library, but every other bus route in the city is still three blocks farther away (not remotely like the one you say here - look at the picture again).

I also do not believe that the Burnet/South Lamar line will stop "at Seaholm". There's no through route, for one thing, not for many more years anyways, and when it does exist, it'll be an extension of 2nd street (slow 2-way traffic in an environment very very poor for rapid bus). The map scale is poor, but I believe they're planning on shifting from Lamar to Guadalupe/Lavaca via 5th and 6th

Actually not the #3 - the #1 RB would come as close as the #98x buses come to the current library. #3 is on Colorado (SB, at least) up by the current library.

The other routes stay put; I'm just optimistically assuming that the vast majority of the people coming from the north or south will be taking a Rapid Bus route.

I was basing the Seaholm Rapid Bus stop on this presentation that shows a stop on Cesar Chavez then continuing on South Lamar: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/zoning/downloads/capital_metro_kramer_stn_update.pdf. It's probably not set in stone, but it's at least likely as of 7/30/08.

I don't think Rapid Bus is going to be good enough to make anybody want to transfer an extra time. All the major bus routes already come downtown; so why on earth would you want to transfer (wait for the next Rapid) when it won't be much faster anyways?

The stop in the picture from that presentation looks like it's on CC - not "in" Seaholm, but outside and pretty close - along the lines of the #3 path on CC. The route on CM's ASG site shows 5th/6th (or something else other than CC), as far as I can tell: http://allsystemsgo.capmetro.org/capital-metrorapid.shtml (click to enlarge).

I doubt the city would consent to signal manipulation on Cesar Chavez, and it wouldn't be necessary on 5th/6th, which is why I suspect the latter rather than the former. If I didn't have a day job in the burbs and a family, of course, I could just go to their meetings and confirm these little details...

Another point of interest: this presentation:


appears to still show Congress (north of the river) - note the jog south of the capitol heading to the east. (Why These Initial Corridors? slide).

You'd think they'd do a better job of making this kind of information easily accessible online in 2008. Plus, two presentations given on the same day don't even have the same route. Pretty silly.

good points about the location of the proposed Library. I think transportation to/from a library is of paramount importance and fully expect city council to get an earful about better locations.

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