AUSTIN (KXAN) — With traffic volume increasing and school just about to start, the Austin Transportation Department is trying to make things easier for commuters.
ATD’s open roads program is back in effect during 7-9 a.m., and that means temporary lane closures due to construction will be restricted to help increase mobility. When traffic dropped during the early portions of the COVID-19 pandemic the city allowed for more temporary lane closures, but now with traffic in July back to nearly 90% of what it was before the pandemic in places around Austin — plus the anticipated school traffic — lanes need to stay open.
“Removing the peak period lane restrictions helped accelerate construction activity and spur economic growth to expedite the delivery of major construction projects that need access to the roadways,” Gina Fiandaca said. She’s the assistant city manager that oversees mobility.
“Now, with schools back in session, it is time to rebalance our priorities to ensure we are maximizing mobility options for our residents,” she said.
Lane closures won’t be restricted everywhere, however. They’ll still be allowed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on roads not in the open roads program in order to help keep construction projects on schedule, the city said.
ATD data shows the increase in traffic isn’t evenly spread throughout the day. From July 9-23, average weekday afternoon traffic at peak times was down 7-10% when compared to pre-pandemic levels. Morning peak traffic overall was down 24-33%, as well.