AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an effort to reduce pedestrian deaths as part of the Road to Zero initiative the Texas Department of Transportation is setting up new barriers along a portion of Interstate Highway 35.

The new barriers are an expansion of the Be Safe Be Seen pedestrian program. The bariers will be installed on I-35 from 51st Street to Rundberg Lane. TxDOT says the goal of the barriers is to encourage pedestrians to use intersections that have a crosswalk.

“Pedestrian deaths are up not only nationwide, but also here in Austin,” remarked Tucker Ferguson, TxDOT Austin district engineer. “Last year we painted no pedestrian crossing signs on the center-line barriers near 51st Street and have seen good success. Today, we are expanding on that initiative, by adding a 2-foot panel on top of the center-line barrier and painting the no pedestrian crossing signs along a 3.3-mile stretch of I-35 where we continue to see pedestrian fatalities.”

According to TxDOT, the new barriers are designed to be easily removable by emergency responders for easy access to the roadway in case of a crash. In addition to reducing pedestrian crossings the department hopes the barriers will help reduce headlight glare from oncoming traffic.

The Road to Zero initiative funded the $700,000 pilot project which was approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in 2019. The initiative is providing $600 million over two years for safety projects like the new I-35 barriers. The goal is to reduce traffic deaths on Texas roads to zero by 2050.

“This novel approach will help reduce pedestrian fatalities – already too many of our traffic related deaths,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “This is Austin and the State working together to save lives.”