Update on West Campus lighting improvements after student’s murder

Austin
west campus_1543844760727.png.jpg

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Transportation Department acknowledged that lighting is not up to standard in West Campus during a Public Safety Commission meeting Monday evening.

ATD’s presentation was the result of transportation officials studying West Campus lighting for more than a year, as part of the city’s effort to improve safety for students on West Campus.

Poor lighting in the area has been a concern since the murder of UT freshman Haruka Weiser in 2016

Part of the West Campus Lighting study included a survey. More than 90 percent of the students surveyed said better lighting in the area would help them feel safer.

“One of the main findings that they found with the existing lighting was that around 20 percent of our existing lightings are deficient for some reason,” said ATD Pedestrian Coordinator Joel Meyer.

Meyer told commissioners “deficient” means the lights are not working, have been vandalized, or are blocked by trees.

The study also found that 228 more lights are needed, just in West Campus. The cost of purchasing and installing those lights would be anywhere from $1.7 to million to $2.3 million, the city estimates.

“Really just shameful, honestly,” said Joell McNew, who started a parent group called SafeHorns in the wake of Weiser’s murder. It worked with the city on this study and has helped highlight other safety and security concerns on campus.

McNew says she feels that a lack of planning for infrastructure for West Campus created the problem.

“I think the biggest frustration for us is the university and the city of Austin created west campus, and it was a great idea to house students in close proximity to where they’re going to school, and it makes sense,” McNew said. “But, at the same time, where was the infrastructure? Where was the follow through and the planning that would make it sustainable over the years?”

McNew says now, she feels the city has a responsibility to foot the bill.

“I think unfortunately, by not being proactive, it comes at a cost now,” she said.

ATD is drafting a list of potential funding sources for the new lights. Planners will present the list to city council members within the next few weeks, then go from there.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Austin-Travis County

More Austin-Travis County News

Latest Central Texas COVID-19 Cases

More Coronavirus Live Blogs

Trending Stories

Don't Miss