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Council approves 25 mph speed program

Friday, June 12, 2020 by Ryan Thornton

Austin Transportation will begin phasing in speed limit reductions over the next few months as part of the comprehensive speed management program approved by City Council Thursday. The effort cuts speeds on residential and downtown streets to 25 mph, with exceptions for some wider, high-traffic corridors, and drops most arterials inside the urban core down to 35 mph or less. Although a large percentage of serious injuries and traffic fatalities happen on state-owned roads in Austin, these changes are intended to help reduce severe crashes and establish a more comfortable speed for all road users. “I really do hope that (this) will allow us to make some pretty big strides towards our Vision Zero goals,” Council Member Leslie Pool said before Thursday’s vote. Austin’s Vision Zero goal is to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025, but the city has not taken the necessary actions to meet that goal since adopting the target in October 2015. Traffic deaths have continued to climb in recent years, with 38 deaths so far this year, up from 34 at the same time last year. “Speeding is one of the top behaviors that leads to serious injuries and death on our roadways,” said Robert Spillar, director of Austin Transportation. “We believe changes like the proposed new speed limits will better reflect our safety goals and encourage drivers to be more cautious when driving in potentially high-pedestrian environments.” The department plans to continue evaluating arterials outside of the urban core when traffic conditions resume to normal and present speed modification recommendations to Council next spring. For now, the public can browse specific speed changes on the interactive map at the department’s website.

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