City plans improvements for major south Austin thoroughfare


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin is working to upgrade a large section of William Cannon Drive in south Austin. 

The road is a major thoroughfare that connects commuters with major highways including MoPac and Interstate 35.

“I definitely use (William Cannon Drive) as a detour to get to MoPac because I-35 is a parking lot,” Otis Matthews said.

Matthews just moved to the area a month ago from Slaughter Lane. He said he’s used to the traffic: “It’s Austin driving so you expect to be stuck.” However, he would like to see some improvements done.

The city said the proposed changes will be spread out on William Cannon Drive from Southwest Parkway to McKinney Falls Parkway —  about 12 miles. 

Improvements include new shared-use paths, protected bike lanes and modifications to several intersections. As well as widening the road from McKinney Falls Parkway to Running Water Drive from two to four lanes.

Here’s a breakdown of traffic on two sections of William Cannon Drive:

To determine what needed to be upgraded, city officials say they looked at various analyses including traffic crashes between 2013 and 2017 throughout the corridor. During that time there were 1,281 crashes. Of those crashes, five were deadly, 45 potentially serious injuries, 374 minor injuries and 55 crashes involved pedestrians.

“Our goal is to improve mobility for all modes of transportation,” Mandy McClendon with the city’s Corridor Mobility Program said. 

However, some in the neighborhood worry about the growing pains the improvements will cause. 

“My thing is also, impact on travel around here while it’s happening and impact on the environment and those would be my two main concerns,” Michael Huntington said. 

The city said a final design should be completed by this summer and construction is expected to start in 2021. Officials say the construction will be completed in sections to lessen the impact to commuters.

Currently, the project is in the preliminary engineering phase.

The project has secured $46.6 million from the 2016 Mobility Bond for the improvements. City officials say this money will pay for:

  • Up to five new traffic signals and up to four traffic signal upgrades
  • Up to seven pedestrian hybrid beacons
  • Intersection improvements with turn lane modifications to Brodie Lane, S Pleasant Valley Road, Bluff Springs Road, Running Water Drive, and McKinney Falls Parkway
  • Up to 18 miles of new or rehabilitated ADA-compliant sidewalks
  • Up to five miles of protected bike lanes
  • Transit stop improvements (various locations)
  • Between Running Water Drive and McKinney Falls Parkway: roadway widening from two lanes to four lanes, new bridge over Marble Creek, shared-use path on both sides of the road, and landscaping enhancements that include trees (Part of this is being funded by CAMPO grant of up to $11.75 million)

City officials said they still need an additional $61.8 million for:

  • Additional traffic signal upgrades and intersection improvements at up to 14 intersections
  • Enhanced landscaping, including trees
  • Between Brodie Lane to Manchaca Road and between I-35 to McKinney Falls Parkway: roadway widening from four lanes to six lanes and additional on-corridor stormwater drainage upgrades

On Saturday, the public will be able to meet with city officials to learn more about improvements along William Cannon Drive. Office hours will be from 1 p.m. through 4 p.m. at Pleasant Hill Branch Library.

Upgrades to Austin Corridors 

The project to improve William Cannon is part of The Smart Corridor Plan. Nearly $500 million from the 2016 Mobility Bond is being used to fund a total of nine projects.

One of those is on North Lamar Boulevard from U.S. 183 to I-35 and Howard Lane. The city’s plans along the stretch include upgrading traffic signals, installing sidewalks and building bike lanes.

Another is on East Riverside Drive between I-35 and Highway 71 — where the city plans to complete three miles of pavement reconstruction and widen the Country Club Creek Bridge to improve safety.

Full list of corridors:

  • Burnet Road from Koenig Lane to MoPac Expressway
  • Airport Boulevard from North Lamar Boulevard to US 183
  • East MLK Jr. Boulevard/FM 969 from US 183 to Decker Lane
  • North Lamar between US 183 and Howard Lane
  • South Lamar Boulevard from Riverside Drive to Ben White Boulevard/US 290 West
  • East Riverside Drive from I-35 to SH 71
  • Guadalupe Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard to West 29th Street
  • William Cannon Drive from Southwest Parkway to McKinney Falls Parkway
  • Slaughter Lane from FM 1826 to Vertex Boulevard

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