Requests for speed bumps on hold citywide due to backlog despite new crashes

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Romeria Drive is a cut-through road for drivers between Burnet Road and North Lamar Boulevard.

Neighbors say in the last few years, the street has become a racetrack for aggressive drivers. For years, neighbors have asked for speed bumps on the street, but the city program made to handle those requests hasn’t been operating since 2017.

Their concerns were amplified following a horrific crash last Friday night.

A Mazda with four people inside crashed and damaged a neighbors’ two vehicles, a tree and carport. A teenage girl was ejected and nearly killed.

Police say the driver was drunk and speeding.

“A kid was ejected from the vehicle,” said neighbor Steven Uecker. “We didn’t know if she was going to live or die.”

Neighbors have been lobbying for speed bumps on Romeria Drive for years, even as they say these crashes are becoming more frequent.

“My neighbor has had two cars totaled in front of his house, from people flying around the corner,” said Uecker.

KXAN obtained a trail of emails between neighbors and the city of Austin.

Neighbors were calling for speed bumps dating back to 2013.

One email from that time calls Romeria Drive “incredibly dangerous.”

Brent Buford has been driving the effort. He got nearly every homeowner on Romeria Drive to sign a petition calling for the safety improvements.

“My daughter was walking to Lamar [Middle School] when we started this process,” said Buford. “Now she’s leaving this year to go off to college.”

Over the years, emails show the city cited a lack of funding for the project and the need to hire a contractor.

District 7 Council member Leslie Pool’s office told neighbors that requests for speed bumps were on hold citywide because of a large backlog and Austin Transportation creating a new speed management program.

The Local Area Traffic Management Program, which handles speed bump requests, has been on hold since April 2017.

Austin Transportation tells us:

With community input, along with support from Mayor and Council, we are developing the Speed Management program to analyze where the highest priority streets are throughout the City.  A methodology to select and prioritize streets for implementation of speed management strategies is currently under development. Austin Transportation expects to initiate data collection in early 2020 and have a list of projects selected by spring of 2020. Scope of individual projects selected for implementation will depend on availability of funds in Austin Transportation’s budget.

After more than five years of requests from neighbors, the city says speed bump improvements are coming to Romeria Drive, but they will be funded by bond money.

A department spokesperson tells KXAN:

This project is funded by the 2016 Mobility Bond and District 4 Quarter Cent, and is not related to the Local Area Traffic Management program, which ATD paused to relaunch as the upcoming Speed Management program.

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