We, the undersigned students and professors of the University of Texas at Austin, residents of UNO, and local Austin residents request that the Austin City council address the current sidewalk conditions of Guadalupe Street between Martin Luther King Boulevard and 29th Street as they are dangerous, uncomfortable, unresponsive to environmental concerns, and unsightly.
The University of Texas at Austin is one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher learning; we pride ourselves on the prosperous environment we have created and its ability to serve the needs of students and professors. If we are to truly hold steadfast to our goal of providing the best environment possible, we cannot disregard the unsatisfactory conditions of “The Drag”. The corridor most associated with UT should share it's legacy of awe-inspiring beauty and a strong sense of community.
The Drag is hazardous; broken sidewalks and curbs make commuting extremely dangerous for the blind and visually impaired. The Drag’s infrastructure does not respond to the heavy foot-traffic, making the focus appear to be vehicular, while actual inhabitation suggests the focus to be people. It also neglects environmental concerns, acting as a concrete corridor that fails to provide shading for pedestrians in the Texas heat. The drag fails to offer any swales or grassy area where water runoff can be absorbed and used, which would prevent excess flooding of the city drainage systems. The city has allowed these conditions to exist, perpetuating the problem and making the street less attractive of a destination while threatening its economic viability. The Drag has a close relationship with the University that should be celebrated, not neglected.
Sinclair Black’s Master Plan:
The primary objective of the project is to transform The Drag into a destination, which fosters and enriches the community environment of students, faculty, and other local residents. This environment should shares UT’s legacy of beauty. With repaired sidewalks, marked curbs, and a row of trees buffering pedestrian and vehicles, the master plan addresses holistic safety for all inhabitants. The plan widens sidewalks in places where streets were narrowed 10 years ago, focusing heavily on crosswalks. In these places, the sidewalk will widen 8 feet, giving the pedestrians more of a presence and reducing the amount of street to cross. The revitalization of the Drag would plant trees that provide shade, create ambient night lighting, and install street furniture providing places to enjoy while waiting for the bus, eating a meal, or people watching. The design encourages inhabitation along the Drag, rather than using it simply as the quickest avenue to campus.
An Implementation Plan establishes a management district to proactively maintain the street and included guidelines for façade improvements and infill development. The planning process is collaborative, pulling together the efforts of the neighborhood, merchants, the University, the City of Austin, Capital Metro and the artistic community.
A proposal addressing the issues of safety, health and comfort on Guadalupe Street has been created and permitted twice. Austin City Council has approved funding but is not willing to put time and effort towards the project since there is a lack of public support and education.
We request that that the Austin City Council takes immediate and effective action to solve these issues with such a proposal.