AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin is working to light up drivers’ commute.
The Austin Transportation Department, alongside the Texas Department of Transportation, will improve lighting along a dark stretch of east and northeast Austin roads.
On Thursday, the Austin City Council approved upping its funding to help expand the Cameron Road and Howard Lane lighting projects. The city will contribute $650,000 for the project design and pay for any cost overruns. TxDOT will use federal funds to take care of construction.
“It’s going to take longer than we thought but we’re gonna get so much more out of it,” explained Lewis Leff, the Austin Transportation Department’s safety officer. “We’re going from about six miles of new or enhanced lighting to over 10 miles.”
For those at Ken’s Subs, Tacos & More they’re just glad the city is finally addressing the issue.
“It’s dark,” said Hilda Villafranco, the restaurant manager. “I would like for there to be more streetlights.”
Opened in 1989 by a New Yorker who Villafranco said married a Latina after moving to Texas, Ken’s Subs, Tacos & More came to be a neighborhood favorite featuring everything from classic Texas breakfast tacos to an East Coast classic Philly Cheesesteak. Standby its “No Little Taco Here” slogan for nearly 35 years.
The Dessau Road business has a small parking lot and every day, workers who arrive before the sun comes up to work park across the busy road to leave space for customers. Because of that, employees said they have to walk across the road — something they don’t like to do as the road is dark and worry for their safety.
The busy road has lots of traffic – both car and pedestrian.
“It definitely needs some light,” said Josh Gurley about the road.
Restaurant Manager Villafranco said something’s got to give.
“I would like for there to be more streetlights, I would like additional security. I feel like additional lighting in the area could make this area a little more secure for everyone,” she said.
Vision Zero data shows since 2018, 13 people have died along this stretch of road.
Austin transportation leaders said construction along Cameron and Dessau roads should start this fall. Howard Lane construction will kick off sometime early next year. They added sufficient street lighting can help reduce crashes by up to 45 percent.