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Things Are Going to Get a Little Less Lonely for Austin's Traffic Monitors

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News
The city's Transportation Management Center, which monitors traffic, could be getting a few more employees and expanded hours of operation.

Here’s a comforting thought: During your morning commute, there’s always one City of Austin employee watching you. Well, watching your car, at least, and the traffic you may or may not be stuck in.

Turns out, that employee may be getting some company in the future, as the city is now considering adding more people to its so-called Transportation Management Center.

Jim Dale of the city’s Transportation Department says the Center's pretty much what you’d expect: a room full of screens showing traffic on Austin's roadways, and a city employee watching those screens intently.

That employee has the power to adjust traffic light times to speed commuters along. At Guadalupe and Fourth, for instance, the light stays greener longer than it used to because of recent lane closures.

"We basically increased the green time to account for these reduced number of lanes to help get more people through that intersection," Dale says. 

A $2.2 million contract up right now at City Council would add more staff, allowing up to four people to monitor traffic at one time. It would also keep the management center open on the weekends to help with traffic during events like the Austin City Limits Festival. The Council Mobility Committee approved the contract Monday. Now, it’s just up to the full Council to give it the proverbial green light. 

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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