Popular events unpopular with downtown travelers
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The Livestrong Austin Marathon may be behind us, but the races served as the start of Austin’s lengthy race season, which means mayhem for those who drive in Downtown Austin on weekends.
Transportation officials say spring and fall have the most road closures, thanks to about 100 events that take over downtown streets every year. Not only will South by Southwest take Austin by storm in the upcoming weeks, but the city says this is also the busiest time for races, music and charities.
“Austin is a great place to live and some of the greatness of it and weirdness of it is special events," Gordon Derr, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, said.
Many event organizers want to host their events in the heart of the city, which opens the possibility of paralyzing downtown traffic. Of the 100 events that shut down city streets every year, the city says roughly half of those are races.
“It's an awesome view, it's pretty empowering just to race up to there, walk up to there,” Austinite Amanda Maana said. “It’s just a powerful place and message and area to be around.”
Since so many events are held during the spring and fall, sometimes there are a handful of events on the same day. Transportation officials said that as the city grows, they may need to put tighter restrictions in place.
“We're going to be going through a process this spring to look at the special events ordinance, we'll be doing outreach with people for ideas, but part of it is to come up with some practical caps," Derr said.
The city needs six months to plan for events like last Sunday's Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.
While some Austinites acknowledge the hassle of road closures, many feel these special events add to the city’s quality of life.
“I don't really mind all the road closures because I think Austin's a healthy city and the more we can get people out running the better," Austinite Jason Black said.
Some downtown churches notify churchgoers about upcoming races. The First United Methodist church put a note in its newsletter leading up to the marathon and half marathon to make sure people still attended.