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Friday, September 20, 2019 by Samuel King
Lower speed limits coming to some Austin roadways
Austin City Council approved a round of speed limit changes Thursday, the latest tangible sign of the city’s efforts to make streets safer.
“We know that it’s much more likely for a severe crash to happen when speeds go up even just five miles per hour,” said Lewis Leff, transportation safety officer for the city of Austin. “We’re trying to do our part here locally to make sure we’re capturing every sort of strategy and solution to reduce speeds and make sure those injuries and fatalities don’t happen at the same rate.”
The streets selected are largely what the city classifies as Level 3 roadways or arterials with a high number of crashes that have led to serious injuries and fatalities. Reducing those numbers is a focus of the Vision Zero initiative.
The changes are as follows:
- Reducing the speed limit on Cameron Road to 35 mph, from 485 feet north of U.S. Highway 290 to U.S. Highway 183
- Reducing the speed limit on Airport Boulevard to 40 mph from Interstate 35 to Glissman Road
- Reducing the speed limit on East Stassney Lane to 50 mph from Teri Road to 1,200 feet south of Burleson Road, and to 35 mph on Stassney 1,200 feet south of Burleson Road to Burleson
- To 35 mph on Grove Boulevard from Hogan Avenue to Montopolis Drive
- To 35 mph on Montopolis Drive from Riverside Drive to Burleson Road
- To 40 mph on South Lamar from Barton Skyway to Ben White Boulevard
- To 35 mph on Pleasant Valley Road (North) to Webberville Road and on Pleasant Valley Road (South) to Oltorf Street
- To 35 mph on Riverside Drive from South First Street to 250 feet east of Vargas Road; to 40 mph on 250 feet east of Vargas Road to U.S. 183
More rounds of speed limit changes are planned as the Austin Transportation Department continues to implement its new speed management program. It aims to take a more proactive approach to combat speeding, instead of merely waiting for complaints. For the past few months, the department has gathered input from the public on what other speed management methods residents want to see.
“The highest-ranking strategies on Level 1 & 2 streets (neighborhoods) were targeted enforcement, pedestrian refuge islands and crosswalks and speed humps/cushions,” Transportation Director Robert Spillar wrote in a memo to city officials. “The highest-ranking strategies on Level 3 & 4 streets (major or minor arterials) were full corridor/major intersection improvements, pedestrian refuge islands and crosswalks and targeted enforcement.”
The budget passed by City Council last week contains funding for the program, including the hire of a program manager. Once that position is filled, the department hopes to have a list of potential street projects by January.
This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.