The Austin City Council approved a round of speed limit changes, 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 5 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 mostly what the city classifies as Level 3 roadways or arterials. They have a high number of crashes that have led to serious injuries and fatalities, according to Leff. 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. 290 to U.S. 183
- Reducing the speed limit on Airport Boulevard to 40 mph from I-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 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 the Austin 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.
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