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Pedestrian advisors seek to clear rights of way

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

Austinites who frequent downtown know the frustration of navigating past construction that can block the right of way. The Pedestrian Advisory Council has done a survey of such obstructions and is bringing the results to city staff with hopes of mitigating the issue.

The PAC voted Monday night to send a memo to the Transportation Department’s Right of Way Management Division stating that it supports “additional training opportunities and certification of contractors to help to prevent construction barriers before they occur.” It also recommends that residents continue to report existing construction barriers using the city’s 3-1-1 smartphone app.

Right of Way Management regulates activities that take place in the right of way in order to preserve public safety and mobility.

“The big challenge is that for these larger construction sites, there’s a superintendent, and they might need to have some training and certification for how to create safe pedestrian environments around these construction sites,” Vice Chair Emily Risinger said. “But a lot of times people that are working under them aren’t necessarily held to the same certifications and standards.”

The memo states that a citywide certification program would “give greater tracking and control over who can operate as a construction contractor on large projects in the city.”

Risinger added that the 3-1-1 app can help city staff address issues more quickly when they do occur. “A big challenge is that if they don’t know where the challenges are occurring … they can’t fix them,” she said. “So everybody needs to be reporting these things in real time using the 3-1-1 app, so they can build a database of recurring problem areas.”

The memo, which includes six photographs of construction barriers in the city, states that the PAC is particularly concerned about obstructions that could impact compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

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