Austin core speed limits could be reduced to 35 mph, 25 mph around homes

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin traffic engineers are recommending reduced speeds on many roads citywide to prevent traffic injuries and deaths.

These recommendations will be presented Friday by the Austin Transportation Department to Austin’s Urban Transportation Commission. The Office of Austin’s City Traffic Engineer carried out a recent traffic engineering study, finding that speeds on roads in the urban core, neighborhood streets, and downtown streets should all be reduced. The department notes that speeding is the primary contributing factor in around a quarter of Austin’s traffic deaths.

Citing an AAA study from 2011, the department’s presentation noted that as motor vehicle speeds increase, the risk of serious injury or death for a pedestrian also increases and driver’s field of vision decreases as well.

A graphic included in Austin Transportation Department’s Speed Management Briefing for the Austin Urban Transportation Commission on May 15, 2020.

The recommendations

Urban core

The “urban core” in this case is considered to be the area bounded by MoPac to the West, SH 71 to the South, and US 183 to the North and East. The traffic engineers who worked on the study recommend that most speed limits on Level 3 streets (also called arterials) be reduced to 35 miles per hour in the urban core of the city.

A spokesperson for Austin’s Transportation Department explained that based on the department’s engineering study, five streets have segments recommended down to 30 mph while four other streets have segments recommended down to 40 mph.

There are some exceptions, under these recommendations:

  • 7th Street (Brushy Street to Pleasant Valley Drive) would have speeds reduced from 35 mph to 30 mph.
  • 7th Street (Shady Lane to Airport Boulevard) would have speeds reduced from 45 mph to 40 mph.
  • 51st Street (IH-35 to Berkman Drive) would have speeds reduced from 40 mph to 30 mph.
  • Cesar Chavez Street (Shady Lane to Airport Boulevard) would have speeds reduced from 45 mph to 40 mph.
  • Cesar Chavez Street (Lamar Boulevard to San Antonio Street) would have speeds reduced from 35 mph to 30 mph.
  • Lamar Boulevard (Cesar Chavez Street to 15th Street) would have speeds reduced from 35 mph to 30 mph.
  • Manor Road (IH-35 to Berkman Drive) would have speeds reduced from 35 mph and 40 mph to 30 mph.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (J.J. Seabrook Drive to US 183) would have speeds reduced from 50 mph to 45 mph.
  • Oltorf Street (Alvin Devane Boulevard to Montopolis Drive) would have speeds reduced from 45 mph to 40 mph.

Residential Streets

A graphic included in Austin Transportation Department’s Speed Management Briefing for the Austin Urban Transportation Commission on May 15, 2020, depicting recommendations for speed reductions on residential streets.

Austin Transportation Department is recommending that residential streets lower to 25 miles per hour for streets 36 feet wide or less The department said the net effect of this would be most residential streets across Austin having a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.

If these recommendations were put into place, ATD would be allowed to evaluate residential streets between 36 feet and 40 feet wide to see whether lowering speed limits to 25 miles per hour is reasonable.

In addition to the reduction of speed limits for streets 40 feet wide or less, traffic engineers determined an additional eighteen residential streets which they believe should have lowered speed limits at this time:

  • Beckett Road would be reduced to 35 mph
  • Berkman Drive would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Bilbrook Place would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Bull Creek Road would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Deer Lane would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Duval Street would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Exchange Drive would be reduced to 35 mph
  • Exposition Boulevard would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Hancock Drive would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Jones Road would be reduced to 30 mph
  • La Crosse Avenue would be reduced to 35 mph
  • Latta Drive would be reduced to 35 mph
  • Manor Road would be reduced to 30 mph
  • McCarty Lane would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Oak Springs Drive would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Parker Lane would be reduced to 30 mph
  • Lakeshore Boulevard would be reduced to 30 mph
  • St. Johns Avenue would be reduced to 30 mph

Downtown Core

A graphic included in Austin Transportation Department’s Speed Management Briefing for the Austin Urban Transportation Commission on May 15, 2020 depicting recommendations for speed reductions on downtown streets.

ATD defines the downtown core as the area bounded by N. Lamar Boulevard to the West, E/W Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the North, the IH-35 Southbound Frontage Road to the East, and Lady Bird Lake to the South. The department said under these recommendations, most streets in the downtown core would be reduced to 25 miles per hour.

There would be a few exceptions to the decrease to 25 mph downtown:

  • N. Lamar Boulevard, Guadalupe Street, Lavaca Street, and E/W Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard would remain at 30 mph
  • E/W 15th Street and E/W Cesar Chavez Street would be lowered from 35 mph to 30 mph

Additionally, the city’s traffic engineers are recommending that traffic signal timing in this area be reviewed and set to a 25 mph progression speed if possible.

What happens next

Austin’s Urban Transportation Commission will discuss these recommendations on May 15 and Austin’s Mobility Committee will discuss them on May 28. ATD is hopeful the recommendations will be translated into an ordinance which would be voted on by Austin City Council on June 11.

If council voted to approve these recommendations, signs noting these changes would need to be installed before the new speed limits could take effect. The transportation department said it is developing an installation plan for these signs now.

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