AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a decade in operations, the Austin Transportation Department is taking the next steps in removing an emergency gate that has separated the Crestview and Crestview Station neighborhoods.
A bright orange and white emergency gate stationed at the intersection of Morrow Street and Easy Wind Drive has been the source of frustrations for some neighbors over the years, who have said the gate hinders through traffic for area residents. In September, Austin City Council approved a pilot program to analyze the impact opening the gate would have on neighborhood traffic levels, speeds and safety.
Last week, Robert Spillar, ATD’s director of transportation, issued a memo recommending Austin City Council remove the gate following the pilot program’s duration. ATD began collecting traffic speed, volume and crash data at the location in August, prior to the pilot program’s approval, and then compared those figures to data collected once the gate was opened as part of the trial.
Following the gate’s opening, traffic levels did increase immediately but eventually tapered off, officials said. However, officials didn’t notice a substantial uptick in speeding or impaired safety conditions.
“The resulting volumes with the gate opened are within expected and safe ranges for these types of streets,” the memo read. “The speed data indicates that the prevailing speeds (85th percentile) were not impacted by the increased volumes, and drivers continued to travel within reasonable conformance of the posted 25 mph speed limits.”
Following this recommendation, the proposal will go through the city’s planning commission for consideration before making its way to the city council. That process will likely take a few months, said Jerry Rusthoven with the city’s planning and zoning department.
From a connectivity standpoint, staff said this would help enhance travel within the neighborhood as well as with area corridors.
“It’d be rare that we’d recommend a gate because we do like our street networks connected,” said Eric Bollich, managing engineer in ATD’s transportation engineering division. “But we do want traffic and users operating in a safe manner. And so as we looked at the pilot, we looked at a lot of the speed of travel, crash history, other indicators that might tell us whether or not the gate would be a good idea in terms of safety, mobility.”