Austin City Council moves forward with Central Library project

The new Central Library Project is moving forward after Austin City Council approved 7-0 funding a construction manager at risk with Hensel Phelps Construction at the May 9 council meeting.

"This is very exciting. I can't wait to be in that library and around it," Councilwoman Laura Morrison said. "It's going to be a beautiful building."

Funding is limited to a total of $111.9 million. The approval also includes construction of the Second Street roadway and utilities as well as construction of the Seaholm Substation screen wall. Hiring a construction manager at risk is a type of construction method that sets a guaranteed maximum price for a project.

Howard Lazarus, director of public works with the City of Austin, said bundling the three projects in the contract will help expedite the construction process and reduce inefficiencies.

"By combining those together, we place responsibility for delivery on a single entity and will avoid potential construction conflicts due to multiple contractors working in overlapping work zones," he said.

Planning for the library started in 1990 and was authorized in 2008 using 2006 bond funds. The building is designed to be a six-story structure with two levels of underground parking. The parking levels are expected to hold about 200 vehicles. The library is expected to be completed by spring 2016.

Councilman Chris Riley asked city staff about transportation around the library after its expected opening.

"We will be continuing to work on this at Capital Metro to ensure that we provide good transit service to the new Central Library," Riley said. "We already have good transit service to our current Central Library, and we want to ensure that we still have good transit access when this library opens in 2016.

Riley said with the assurances he's heard about the openings of roads around the library, he believes effective transit will be able to be provided.

A ground breaking ceremony is planned for May 30, and city officials expect significant construction to begin in June.


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