It’s unlikely Austin will reach goal of zero traffic deaths, audit says

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A newly released report by the City Auditor’s Office says Austin is unlikely to reach its 2025 goal of zero fatal and serious traffic crashes.

Austin City Council members adopted Vision Zero back in 2016 and the city has poured money into traffic safety.

Voters approved transportation bonds in 2016 and 2018 that provided $30 million for intersection infrastructure improvements, as well as other traffic safety projects.

Yet the audit cited some circumstances out of the city’s control that will prevent it from reaching its goal.

For example, many of Austin’s traffic deaths occur on roads the city does not control, such as Interstate 35.

Vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing homelessness, are more likely to be killed or injured in a crash. According to the audit, nearly all of Austin’s pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2019 involved people experiencing homelessness.

The audit notes that the Austin Transportation Department’s efforts could be “better aligned with the city’s goal to reduce serious crashes in Austin.”

Recently, ATD created a new list of 150 dangerous intersections that would guide future improvement efforts.

Auditors found that five intersections with a relatively high number of serious or fatal crashes were not included on ATD’s list.

An Austin Transportation spokesperson tells KXAN the department will be using a different method to prioritize intersection improvement projects.

The audit also notes that fatal and serious crashes have happened at many different intersections around the city, but that ATD is only able to improve 3-4 intersections per year.

ATD has made improvements to 11 intersections since 2015 as part of the Vision Zero campaign.

They include:

  1. I-35/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  2. US 183/Cameron Road
  3. Lamar Boulevard/Rundberg Lane
  4. Lamar Boulevard/Parmer Lane
  5. Pleasant Valley Road/Elmont Drive
  6. Congress Avenue/Oltorf Street
  7. 45th Street/Red River Street
  8. Slaughter Lane/Manchaca Road
  9. Slaughter Lane/Cullen Lane
  10. I-35/Braker Lane
  11. Slaughter Lane/S 1st Street

Intersection improvement projects expected to begin soon are:

  1. Lamar Boulevard/Payton Gin Road (construction beginning this Fall
  2. Braker Lane/Stonelake Boulevard (construction beginning this Fall)
  3. Parker Lane/Oltorf Street (2020)
  4. St. Johns Avenue/Lamar Boulevard (2020)

The audit comes out as Austin traffic deaths have increased by 19% this year.

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