Austin evaluates residents’ traffic signal concerns once a year


AUSTIN (KXAN) —  If you think the street you on live is dangerous, you can contact the City of Austin but residents say the process is slower than you’d expect because the city’s transportation department evaluates requests once a year. 

Greg Keverian lives on Jollyville Road near Balcones Wood Drive in northwest Austin. He says the road can get extremely backed up with drivers trying to avoid congested U.S. Highway 183. Keverain said doing something as simple as walking his dog can be very dangerous. He’s called the city but learned he would have to wait months before the city could check on his concern. 

“To me (that) seems crazy how you’re even able to look at all of these and do an actual assessment of traffic patterns based on one month of the year at hundreds of locations across the city,” Keverian said. 

City officials said due to time and resources required to evaluate the requests, the process has been streamlined. Every year, on average, the city gets more than 100 requests. The city starts the annual process in November with evaluations running through December and other data is collected through January. Then, the city ranks the requests for the next several months until at least mid-spring. 

For each request, the city will conduct a cursory review and if there is an urgent need for an evaluation they consider prioritizing it.

In December 2017, the city conducted a study for a traffic light on Jollyville Road near the area Keverain would like to see some pedestrian improvements happen, but the traffic light did not qualify. 

When he tried to request another evaluation for another pedestrian facility Keverain said he was told the city does not conduct studies in the same area in back-to-back years.

“A lot has changed in this city in two years, there’s been a lot more traffic,” Keverian said. He would like to see a crosswalk or a “lighted beacon so people see it as they’re coming down the road.” 

While the city gets more requests from concerned residents officials said in some cases, a need for pedestrian facilities may be identified through ATD’s technical staff or development plans and programs. 

This year, Jollyville Road near Taylor Draper Lane will be considered for a pedestrian hybrid beacon, but Keverain said he doesn’t care if it’s a crosswalk, PHB or sidewalk, he just wants something put in to keep him and his neighbors safe. 

Here’s a look at what the studies look into: 

— For traffic signals, the city said they look at queue lengths, delay time, crash history, where pedestrians originate and travel to, and bus stops and ridership. 

— For pedestrian hybrid beacons, the city looks at the distance from the nearest crossing, speed limit, number of roadway lanes to cross, median type, crash history, where pedestrians originate and travel to, bus stops and ridership, access to a school, and equity considerations.

To take a look at all the requests and statuses click HERE

Neighbors in the area emailed KXAN to share their concerns. 

“I frequently cross (3 to 5 days a week) Jollyville Road with my two small dogs to walk through the neighborhoods and without a crosswalk. It risks my safety and limits my ability to cross the street due to rush hour traffic and mass quantity of vehicles now using Jollyville,” Lynsey Drischler said. “Even at low traffic times, it is still dangerous. Even then, we are frequently caught between the two directions of traffic waiting for the next lanes to clear. One time, my dog stopped abruptly as we were crossing and shook from fear. I yanked her across, but can’t blame her for being nervous. There is still no safe way of walking out of Oakwood Condominiums. You are either walking in a ditch or the bike lane to cross several blocks down from Oakwood or crossing directly.”

Pansy Vore Price said, “I lease out my condo at Oakwoods currently. When I resided there, almost every school day I could hear honking and the noises of excessive braking during school bus pickup and drop off.”

“Unfortunately, there is not currently a safe way to cross Jollyville, and crossing is very challenging due to the rather steady traffic and the curves in both directions in the road itself. I have a dog and wait to walk him until after 8:30 most evenings because there is not a safe way to cross the road in the morning or most of the evening,” neighbor Meghan Kempf said. 

“The crossing on Jollyville is extremely dangerous. Many times as I waited in the middle section with my dog (before he passed away), people would honk at us and cause the dog to startle,” Rita Lathon said. “Even worse, people pulled into the center lane with their cars even though I was standing there with a stroller waiting to cross. They almost ran me and the baby over. The road is too large and busy to cross all in one go most of the time. It’s just not safe.”

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