Start of SXSW Interactive & Music brings parking pains downtown

Heading downtown Friday? Get ready for severe parking pains.

City officials expect Friday to be the most traffic-congested day of the entire year. There are two things messing up the traffic. First is the arrival of the masses coming in for South by Southwest Interactive and Music. And second is the masses of locals who are hitting the road for Spring Break.

But it's the SXSW crowd that will make parking nearly impossible to find for the next ten days. Many of the usual "Pay to Park" spaces downtown are already taken. They were scooped up early by promoters of SXSW Special Events. And many public parking lots are being replaced by temporary music venues.

We reached out to the city to find out just how many spaces we're losing, but they said they were too busy getting ready for SXSW to give us a hard number. Needless to say close-in parking will be hard to come by. Kirsten, a SXSW regular can vouch for that. She says, “It's a challenge but you just have to be prepared to like go further out in the perimeter. You know."

So just how far out is this perimeter? The city maps it as extending 10-to-12 blocks north of Sixth Street. That's quite a hike. But Kirsten thinks it extends even further. "North of MLK. Things like that,” she says adding, “You'll spend more time looking down here than it would take to walk I think."

And if you're thinking of parking in East Austin to avoid this gridlock, you need to know homeowners there are pushing back. Kirsten says, “Over the past three years gradually the perimeter of actual "Pay to Park" on the other side of the freeway has dwindled. Now there's a lot of resident permits."

Of course, parking garages are always an option but be prepared to pay what the market will bear. Your best advice is use Cap Metro or a taxi or rideshare to bring you downtown. Even a bike would work.


Real time downtown street parking availability

Downtown parking garage locations

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