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Major changes slated for Rainey Street

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The city of Austin is hoping to make some big changes to the Rainey Street area. Some which could include adding bike lanes or taking out parking spaces.

The city says mismanaged parking and missing sidewalks have created safety issues. They say fixing these problems now will benefit long term investment in the area.

As the Rainey Street area continues to develop, the city is finding changes to the infrastructure and the traffic flow are needed.

"Even during the daytime when you go through on Rainey Street there is so much parking, construction going on, deliveries, you gotta have a place for pedestrians to feel safe," said Austin's Public Works Director Howard Lazarus.

Thursday he presented council with two options for Rainey Street. The first would turn Rainey into a one way northbound road from River to Driskell Street, creating bicycle lanes on the west side and a lane of parallel parking on the east side of the street.

"Our preferred alternative is to go with the one way flow but there is a lot of community concern," said Lazarus.

"If they feel like one way will make you know things safe but I think it's fine the way it is," said Rainey Street visitor Ella Marie.

The second option is to keep Rainey a two way street, keeping bike lanes but removing all parallel on street parking. Since that already seems to be a problem.

"We're going to put in pay stations. Both options include adding reverse angle parking on East Avenue, so the goal is to increase the total parking available," said Lazarus.

Pay stations Lazarus says creates more turn-over. The Mexican-American Cultural Center parking lot at night would also open.

The one way option on Rainey would create 115 new parking spots, the second would create 85 spaces. But not everyone feels metering is the way to go.

"I love finding free street parking, so I really think we should concentrate on more important issues,' said John Hall, who lives on Rainey Street. "I don't think the meters… I mean this stuff fills us so fast."

The city says they will also have to build out sidewalks to make it more pedestrian friendly. The improvements will be an investment in itself, Lazarus says, since the entire area is expected to be redeveloped.

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