AUSTIN (KXAN) — Officials with the Austin Transportation Department recently invested in three temporary pedestrian crossings. The temporary pedestrian hybrid beacons are a fraction of the cost of a permanent solution because they are solar-powered and use the infrastructure in place.
A permanent pedestrian hybrid beacon can cost around $140,000. The temporary solution runs around $30,000 and lasts around three years. One of the biggest reasons for the high cost is due to the steel poles needed to put in the long-term pedestrian signal.
“The fact is materials aren’t getting any cheaper when you’re using steel poles. Those can get really expensive and there’s been some backup on the materials as well so it’s been longer to procure them, they get more expensive over time,” said Lewis Leff, the department’s transportation safety officer.
ATD officials said they’re willing to make the investment in the temporary solution in the meantime to target problem intersections across the city such as Loyola Lane and Sandshof Drive. That’s the first intersection to receive the temporary pedestrian hybrid beacon. Plus, it’s part of a citywide goal — Vision Zero.
“It’s critical for us to look at all solutions that are available when we’re trying to reach such an ambitious goal of zero fatalities or serious injuries on the roadways. We know that there are over 30 pedestrians killed each year and another 80 or 90 that are seriously injured each year,” Leff said.
So far this year, there have been 22 deaths in Austin, down two from this time last year. There have been 111 people seriously injured this year, and data shows there were around the same serious injuries around this time last year.
“The reality is when you’re walking, you’re the most vulnerable user that’s out there, you don’t have any protection,” Leff said. “So when you’re trying to cross the street it shouldn’t be on us as people making those decisions of when that gap is between cars. We should be able to alert the other drivers that there’s somebody that needs to cross the street, and have them provide that right of way, stop and yield to the pedestrian and make sure they get across safely because we’re trying to get home at the end of the day.”