AUSTIN (KXAN) — This fall, the city of Austin will start work on a project to make the trip to Palm Elementary safer for students. It is part of the city’s Safe Routes to School program that started back in 2017.

The project will come in phases, according to district 2 council member Vanessa Fuentes. This project is located in her district.

The first phase will add safer crossings along Salt Springs Drive with partial medians at certain intersections. It will also add two new city bus stops, giving kids more options to get to school. The second phase will add a protected bike lane on Salt Springs drive that runs from William Cannon Drive to Thaxton Road. That phase is expected in 2024, according to Fuentes.

Bike lanes are not protected along Salt Springs drive (Photo courtesy KXAN).

“Often times for our families here in southeast, we’ve been underinvested in as a community. So, seeing these resources injected into our area is appreciated, but certainly long overdue,” Fuentes said.

School area audited

The city audited the area around Palm Elementary in 2018 as part of the Safe Routes to School program. The city conducted walk audits at 137 elementary and middle schools to find areas that needed improvement projects.

The audit for Palm Elementary showed the area lacked a protected bike lane for kids to safely ride their bike to school. It also found the street crossings were not safe enough for students to walk across with how fast traffic is traveling on Salt Springs Drive.

The city is adding two new city bus stops outside the school for students (Photo courtesy KXAN).

A spokesperson for the city’s transportation and public works department said it has completed more than 425 Safe Routes to School projects at more than 100 schools since 2017.