Some additional downtown streets will soon cater to two-way traffic

Austin will lose some one-way streets in the coming months. The city plans to convert parts of 5th Street and Colorado to two-way streets to help with traffic in the downtown area.

Those who live or work in the downtown area see drivers traveling the wrong way on downtown streets far too often. “It's happening all the time, especially during the rush hour time,” said Dhilip Tharamalinga who manages All American Liquors on 5th Street and Brazos.

“Almost monthly, especially on San Jacinto,” agreed Wendy Bykowski, co-owner of Bykowski Tailor & Garb.  

The City of Austin hopes to put an end to some of that confusion by creating more two-way streets downtown. They will be starting with east 5th Street between Brazos Street and I-35 frontage road.

That puts Bykowski's retail store right in the middle of the construction zone.

“I would like to think that it is all for improvement of our city. Hopefully, it's good for us. It doesn't mean it's not going to come with its own set of issues and, hopefully, it's not endangering people,” Bykowski said. 

However, those who work in the area say they do worry it could cause more problems, especially where the road changes from a two-way to a one way at Brazos.

“If it's going to be two ways, it's going to be more accidents. I feel like it's like a very small place,” said Tharamalinga.

“So it is very confusing when you're going one way to two way and we have so many people traveling through and they don't know, so that is a concern,”  Bykowski said.

The city hopes adding one westbound lane on fifth will provide better access to downtown, especially when 6th Street is closed on weekend nights.

“I think it'll be good for moving people along, but, obviously, all that comes along with change. It's going to create other issues is probably what's going to happen,” said Bykowski. 

One issue Bykowski hopes it will not create is lack of parking, because there are already very limited spaces near her business.

“We just keep losing more and more parking on this road, which is really, really tough, especially for small businesses that are down here,” Bykowski said. 

The city says there will be changes to parking, but that's mostly converting parrallel to back in angle parking or vice versa.

The city hopes to create more two-way roads in the future, but in a downtown corridor already familiar with gridlock, some worry what losing more eastbound lanes will mean for rush hour traffic.

After the transportation department is finished working on fifth street they will move on to Colorado.

That conversion will begin in September and will affect Colorado between Cesar Chavez and 9th Street.