AUSTIN (KXAN) - Another pedestrian trying to cross I-35 near Slaughter Lane was struck and killed by a vehicle over the past weekend, making it the fourth pedestrian-involved fatality on that stretch of the Interstate since September of last year.
"It's not safe up here," said Roshan Wagle, who works along I-35. "You can see a lot of people working just across the street and it's hard for them to go all the way down and cross the street."
Michael Arriaga, 41, was the latest to be killed on that stretch of I-35. Arriaga was trying to cross I-35 between William Cannon and Slaughter Lane around 11 p.m. on March 24 when a tow truck, traveling northbound, struck and killed him. The driver of the vehicle did stop and remained at the scene until police arrived.
There are only two locations along a three-mile stretch between William Cannon and Onion Creek Parkway where pedestrians could potentially cross. One is the underpass at Slaughter Lane. Another location is the Slaughter Creek Overpass. But that road is too narrow and only wide enough to take two lanes of traffic crossing over it. So instead of taking the long way around, some pedestrians choose to cross the interstate on foot, which has proven deadly.
Most of the accidents are happening at night. And there are few lights along this particular stretch of I-35, making it hard for drivers to see what's in front of them until it's too late.
"It's quite dark. Not much lights in the area," Wagle said.
Despite the high number of fatalities, the Texas Department of Transportation currently has no plans to improve pedestrian safety along South I-35 between William Cannon and Onion Creek Parkway. Several businesses are on the West side of I-35, while housing additions and apartments are along the East side of I-35. There are sidewalks along the Southpark Meadows shopping center, and other businesses, but currently no way for pedestrians to cross over I-35, unless walking under the Slaughter Lane underpass.
"I think it's really unsafe for them," Wagle said.
Not only is it unsafe to cross a busy highway, it's also illegal. According to an ordinance put in place by the City of Austin in 1992, it's a Class C Misdemeanor to cross Mopac, US 183 or I-35 in the city limits of Austin. If caught, police officers can issue a citation that could be as high as $500. However, other busy streets like Highway 71 and US 290 are not apart of that ordinance.
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