Frequently Asked Questions

Speedway Mall FAQs (pdf)

Purpose of the Project and Uses of the Mall

Q: Why is this project being done?
A: The 1999 Campus Master Plan provided a framework for enhancing the campus while maintaining a focus on reestablishing community among students, faculty, and staff. Transforming Speedway Avenue to become the major new informal social space of the central campus was identified as the most important public space initiative. The Speedway Mall Project is one of the most significant and comprehensive steps in progressing two of the eight opportunities outlined in UT Austin’s 2012 Campus Master Plan. The 2014 Landscape Master Plan also recommends Speedway Mall as a major civic enhancement.

photo of students hosting a table on the Gregory Gym plaza

Students host a table on the Gregory Gym plaza

Q: What’s the purpose of the Speedway Mall?
A: The mall will be an outdoor learning environment in the central campus that offers numerous activities and services.

Q: How will the mall transform mobility on campus?
A: The mall will encourage primarily pedestrian activity, with vehicle traffic limited to emergency vehicles and those necessary for conducting university business during restricted hours. It will also encourage alternative transportation by offering increased bicycle parking.

Q: What types of activities will take place on the mall?
A: The plaza will feature special events hosted by the university and student groups, from performances and art displays to informational booths hosted by student organizations. Other areas of the mall will be set up for studying individually and in small groups. A food truck will offer snacks, light meals and beverages. See “Student Activities” and “Food Truck” FAQs for additional information.

Mall Design

Q: What is the design scope of the project?
A: The scope includes turning the current roadway into a wide, pedestrian-friendly mall. This involves minor grade changes and a replacement of current asphalt and curbing with brick pavers. The scope also includes construction of a plaza at Speedway and 24th Street, installation of lighting and power improvements, utility upgrades, food truck parking, and landscape enhancements.

Q: How does the mall design encourage pedestrian activity?
A: Speedway will become a 36-foot wide pedestrian mall. That span includes 2-foot wide flat curbs on either side. The design will also eliminate the existing adjacent sidewalks so that all pedestrian traffic will use the new pedestrian mall. Those existing sidewalk areas will be turned into landscaped areas with vegetation, thereby reducing impervious surfaces.

Photo of Speedway Mall construction and tree protection, January 5, 2017

Speedway Mall construction and tree protection, Jan. 5, 2017

Q: What will happen to existing trees?
A: The mall project includes improving conditions for existing mature oak trees, as well as planting of additional trees and native and adaptive plants. A few damaged/unhealthy smaller trees will be repurposed in accordance with the UT Austin campus’s best practice (http://www.utexas.edu/sustainability/greenbuilding/treeconservation.php).

Q: Will the mall be a safe place after dark?
A: It will be even better lit after the project than it is now, with lighting improvements to enhance security.

Construction

Q: When will construction start?
A: Construction will begin October 26.

Q: How will construction affect Speedway?
A: Construction will be done in stages, with one side of Speedway being affected at any given time. During construction the roadway will narrow to around 17 feet in width. This will allow pedestrians, deliveries and emergency vehicles to use the open half. For safety, bicycles will be required to dismount during construction upon the recommendation of the university’s traffic engineer. (Dismount will not be required after construction is completed.)

Q: How will construction affect 21st Street?
A: Traffic will be allowed to continue using 21st during construction. There will be times when the intersection will have flaggers who send traffic through one-way while the new mall is constructed. There will be significant changes to parking along 21st Street. Most of the F11 spaces will be converted to either ADA spaces or “service” spaces (loading zone, meter, car share etc.) to accommodate for the loss of these spaces on Speedway.

Photo of south view of Speedway, June 2016

South view of Speedway, June 2016

Q: What happens during construction?
A: The construction area is fenced before actual construction begins. Construction of the mall requires minor grade changes along the former roadway, utility upgrades, lighting and power improvements, construction of a plaza at Speedway’s intersection with 24th Street, food truck parking, and landscape enhancements. Existing paving, curbs and underlying base will be removed down a few feet in preparation for the new paving system. New storm water piping and connections will also be installed, which will require trenching down even further.

The contractor will maintain some vehicular and pedestrian pathways through the construction site. These will change locations from week to week to enable work to be completed, and signage will change accordingly. The contractor will schedule deliveries and dump trucks around the daily class schedule as much as possible.

 Q: When will construction end?
A: Construction will be completed in spring 2018.

Q: Who is the contractor?
A: Flintco, one of the largest contractors in the nation. The company has completed numerous projects at UT Austin, including Garrison Hall Renovation, BELO Center for New Media, Jackson Geological Sciences Building Renovation and the LBJ Library Renovation.

Student Activities

Q: Will student organizations be able to table and/or host programs on the mall during construction?
A: Fire department emergency access requires that 17 feet be kept clear. While one side of Speedway is under construction, the open side must be clear of furnishings, tents, etc.  Areas of Speedway where there is no construction should be available as they are now.

Q: Will student organizations be able to set up inflatables or other attractions (e.g., petting zoos, DJ stages) on the mall? If so, will there be any size or other restrictions?
A: See answer above for clearance required during construction. After construction is complete, fire department access of 25 feet must be maintained clear of furnishings, equipment, etc. The remaining 10 to 11 feet can be programmed for such attractions in accordance with UT Policy.

Q: Will student organizations have access to power or water? If so, where?
A: Outdoor power distribution pedestals are currently planned south of PAT, near the East Mall and Speedway intersection, and south of GRE near 21st. Outdoor power distribution pedestals will be provided for future electrical wiring near GDC and north of JES. The pedestals will make it possible to power large events that have greater electrical demands, with 120 volt electrical outlets planned at the base of each light pole in outdoor seating areas and areas where students congregate. These locations include the plazas near the 21st and Speedway intersection, East Mall and Speedway intersection, and the 24th Street and Speedway intersection. Public hose bibs are not currently planned.

Food Truck

Q: Where will the food truck be located?
A: One food truck pad (location) has been identified as part of the Speedway mall project: at 21st Street and Speedway Mall, outside Gregory Gym (GRE).

photo of food truck and diners on Gregory Gym plaza

Food truck and diners on Gregory Gym plaza

Q: How did you select this area?
A: This area is adjacent to existing vehicular routes and does not conflict with trees or emergency access. The food truck must leave campus frequently to dispose of regulated kitchen waste.

Q: How will you select the vendor?
A: The university will use a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. That process will begin about eight months before completion of the project. The University Unions will handle the RFP in conjunction with the university Purchasing Office. The University Unions will solicit input from the University Unions Board of Governors, Student Government, Campus E+E, and our student employees. Individual students can provide input directly to the Unions.

Parking & Deliveries

Q: Will there be any parking spaces?
A: Speedway will not have parking spaces. Spaces along 21st Street will change to accommodate the loss of spaces on Speedway.

Q: How else will parking be affected?
A: F11 parking will move to San Jacinto and 21st Street. “A” parking along San Jacinto will be shifted south as will the Carpool spaces. ADA parking lost on Speedway (“D” permit) will be relocated along 21st Street and on Jester Circle. Ultimately, additional ADA parking will be lost on 21st St. When the project is complete ADA parking in this area will be decreased by approximately 20 spaces. However, UT D permits are now equipped with magnetic stripe on the permit that will allow access to the Brazos Garage (BRG) for parking in BRG ADA spaces for no additional fee. In terms of actual parking inventory, this project results in a decrease of overall parking spaces in this location of approximately 150 surface spaces.

Q: Where will ADA parking go?
A: E. 21st St will have additional ADA spaces added, Jester Circle will have additional ADA spaces added and the Brazos Garage.

Q: Where will regular permit parking go (i.e., F11)? Do we lose those spaces?
A: The displaced F11 permits have already been moved to various garages, with most of them being relocated to the Brazos Garage. Everyone with an F11 permit was offered a new parking location.

Q: Where can I park my bicycle?
A: New bicycle racks will be added along Speedway as part of the project. In addition, more bicycle racks will be added to existing locations where practical.

Q: Where will delivery trucks have access?
A: Operable bollards will be installed at key points on 21st and 24th Streets to control vehicular access to Speedway. Buildings with existing loading docks will be able to continue using them.

Q: Will university carts or other university vehicles be permitted?
A: The operable bollards are spaced far enough apart for a typical UT cart to go through without the bollard lowering. Full-size vehicles will not be able to enter or exit without the bollard lowering.

Photo of Speedway Mall construction zone in front of Gates Dell Complex, Jan. 5, 2017

Speedway Mall construction zone in front of Gates Dell Complex, Jan. 5, 2017

Project History

Q: When did planning begin?
A: In 2004, Peter Walker Partners was selected as Landscape Architect for the re-envisioned Speedway Mall/East Mall. Programming was completed in 2006 and schematic design in 2007. The project was paused in 2008 to await funding.

Q: When was the project proposed?
A: The 1999 Campus Master Plan identified transforming Speedway Avenue into the major new informal social space of the central campus as the most important public space initiative. The Speedway Mall Project is one of the most significant and comprehensive steps in progressing two of the eight opportunities outlined in the 2012 Campus Master Plan. The 2014 Landscape Master Plan also recommends Speedway Mall as a major civic enhancement.

Project Cost and Funding

Q: What is the total project cost?
A: The campus request for a TPC of $36 million for the Speedway Mall portion of the project was approved by the Board of Regents.

Q: How is the project funded?
A: Appropriation and authorization was requested to expend $39,251,000, with funding of $1,200,000 million from Gifts, $8,051,000 from Interest on Local Funds (ITF Harvested Gain) and $30,000,000 from the Available University Fund.  Of this funding, $3,251,000 has been expended on design fees.  The $36 million Phase 1 TPC for which design development approval was requested at the May 2015 Board of Regents meeting is included in the $39,251,000.

Outreach to Campus

Q: When and how has the university obtained feedback from stakeholders?
A: The original planning worked through a committee that included three students from Student Government: Michael Windle, Dan Paschal and Elizabeth Brummett. Student Affairs and Dean of Students were also represented. Numerous meetings were held throughout programming and design with various campus stakeholders. These meetings addressed specific issues, such as event planning, with representatives of buildings along Speedway and with special interest representatives, including those focused on accessibility, bicycling and service vehicle access.

Q: How can I get more information and updates on the project?
A: Visit the Speedway Mall web site at http://sites.utexas.edu/speedway/. There is also a construction advisory located at http://www.utexas.edu/campusplanning/construction/. In addition, you can attend the information session that will be held in advance of each stage of the project.  You may also email questions and comments about the project to speedwaymall@austin.utexas.edu.