Claims about Spring don’t Spring

I don’t have time for a full write-up on my old neighborhood’s irresponsible opposition to the Spring project but one thing I talked about with my coworker yesterday merits a quick jotting down so I don’t forget.

The neighborhood (and my coworker) assert that you shouldn’t build this project because it would make traffic much worse at the 5th/6th/Lamar intersection, which already fails during rush hour. This seems like a reasonable proposition, but I assert otherwise. Consider a simplified model of the Spring residents – there are two residents, both of whom work downtown. Wendy Walker and Dave Driver.

Dave Driver is going to get in his car and drive east. This won’t make the intersections at Lamar any worse, since he’s already east of Lamar. Oops. (Note: during my conversation with my cow orker, both of us forgot the fact that Spring is east, not west, of Lamar – if it makes this more worthwhile, you can pretend that we’re now talking about the intersection of 5th and Guadalupe, or that Spring is west of Lamar for the hypothetical).

Wendy Walker is going to walk to her job downtown. This can’t make things any worse either.

Now, consider what happens if the project isn’t built. Wendy and Dave still have their downtown jobs, but now they must drive there. Both will now go through the intersection at 5th and Lamar in the mornings and through 6th and Lamar in the evenings. Oops.

Like most opposition to densification, OWANA settled on the traffic argument since it’s an easy one to win, even if it lacks merit. In this case it’s clear – many (possibly most) of the people moving into these downtown complexes aren’t going to bother driving to work, and even if they do, they’re either ‘reverse commuting’ (driving OUT of downtown in the morning, where there’s plenty of spare capacity) or they can’t be making things any worse, since otherwise they’d be driving downtown from further out.



2 thoughts on “Claims about Spring don’t Spring

  1. I’m the cow-worker, and to be fair, I said that it shouldn’t be built unless either:
    A) no parking garage (not likely to be financially wise unless Austin suddenly builds a subway)
    B) a study is done showing that weekend traffic is not reduced to gridlock
    Otherwise -from a traffic standpoint- it’s like building a multistory mall with parking garage.
    I am not opposed to the development in concept, but I do think it’s reasonable for the neighborhood to ask for a study that is more concrete than hand-waving.

  2. As somebody who lives across the street from the proposed Spring site at 3rd and Lamar, I’ll add that I rarely travel through the intersection of 5th and Lamar regardless of which direction I’m headed.
    Anyone familiar with LIVING IN THE AREA knows that if you’re going to head west to MoPac (out of town) from 3rd/Bowie, you take 3rd down to Baylor and then cut up to 6th street. Much quicker. Same thing coming back home on 5th: you duck onto Baylor before you hit Lamar. Let all the outside crowd fight their way through 5th+Lamar.
    I work downtown and sometimes drive. Again, I don’t go anywhere near 5th+Lamar and instead use West Ave. as a conduit.
    Building in this area won’t add much pressure at all to the 5th+Lamar intersection. It will require a little upgrade to 3rd between Baylor and Bowie, however, since as it stands isn’t wide enough in some areas for two cars to pass.

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