AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Transportation Commission approved a $3 million contract to expand the pedestrian barriers along Interstate 35.

The expansion will stretch from State Highway 45 Southeast near Buda north to Greenlawn Boulevard near I-35 in Round Rock.

Signage near Rundberg Lane along with the added plastic barriers to deter pedestrians from attempting to cross the highway. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

The plastic barriers add about two feet of height to the current concrete median barrier along I-35. Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation hope these pedestrian barriers will discourage people from attempting to cross.

The latest data from Vision Zero shows about 70% of people died on state-controlled roads within the city of Austin including the section of I-35 from 51st Street to Rundberg Lane where TxDOT installed pedestrian barriers two years ago.

TxDOT data shows between 2017 and 2020 there were nine deaths along that three-and-a-half-mile section. That number was cut by more than half since the barrier installation in July 2020 with three deaths — one each year since 2020 including this year.

The latest project will allow TxDOT to expand the pedestrian barrier, which is an enhancement TxDOT officials say will save lives.

“It’s going to be in sections, but it’s along 25 miles of I-35,” said Diann Hodges, a TxDOT spokesperson. “Where we know we have seen pedestrians attempt to cross the highway we want to make sure that’s where the barriers are going.”

TxDOT explains there are certain areas where it cannot put a barrier because of the way the road is designed including parts of downtown Austin. They expect to begin work on this expansion of the pedestrian barriers later this summer.

“Knowing that this has worked as a deterrent we intended it to be, we now want to expand that,” Hodges said.