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Stay in your lane: Austin looks to reduce crashes on Barton Springs Road

 People walk along a road
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Pedestrians walk along Barton Springs Road in 2019.

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Barton Springs Road could be slimming down just in time for swim season.

Citing serious crashes, the Austin Transportation Department says it's considering winnowing down the thoroughfare that runs between Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool from four lanes to two. The city could reduce lanes for a year, then reevaluate whether it effectively reduces crashes.

Austin Transportation Department

In a memo Thursday, ATD said there were 240 crashes on the stretch of road between Stratford Drive and Lamar Boulevard and that, despite efforts to reduce speeding, vehicles typically drive 15 mph over the speed limit. An incident in which a driver plowed into a crowd near a food truck last April pushed the department to look into reducing lanes, the memo said.

Crews could also expand bike lanes along the stretch of road.

The proposed revamp is similar to the city's efforts to reduce crashes along Pleasant Valley Road on the Longhorn Dam. The city winnowed that stretch of road and added protected bike lanes in 2021. Since then, ATD says, it has seen an 82% reduction in injuries and fatal crashes.

Both roads were singled out in the city's Vision Zero plan, a strategy the city first adopted in 2015 to eliminate traffic deaths.

Last year was the deadliest year on Austin roads; at least 125 people died in crashes. The previous record of 118 deaths was set the year before.

ATD is seeking feedback for the program online until the end of the month.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at aweber@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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