Would the Barton Springs Road Safety Pilot work?

Would the Barton Springs Road Safety Pilot work?

AUSTIN (KXAN)– There’s a concern that Austin’s proposal to change a stretch of Barton Springs Road could make it even more crowded.

The city is considering cutting down the number of lanes to one in each direction between South Lamar Boulevard and Azie Morton Road.

“I just think it’s going to become so congested that people will no longer come by,” said Jason Crouch, who works at Green Mesquite BBQ, located along the stretch of Barton Springs Road that would see the lane reduction.

Crouch said he wouldn’t mind the lane reductions during big events, like the ACL Festival, but said a permanent change would hurt business.

“I’ve seen changes down here, a lot considerable changes, but none as drastic is what they’re proposing right now,” said Crouch, who’s been working at Green Mesquite BBQ since the 1990s.

Austin Transportation Department officials said because they’ll add lanes to the intersections, traffic would still be able to flow.

KXAN asked if the transportation department has tried this method anywhere else before.

Officials pointed to 51st Street between Berkman Drive and US 183, where they also cut lanes from two to one in each direction and added lanes at three intersections.

The city said two segments were analyzed, showing the changes resulted in a 19-43% decrease in injury crashes.

The Barton Springs Road project would also create wider lanes for bicyclists, with physical barriers from traffic.

Bicyclist Steve Schaffer isn’t sure those changes would help as much as others.

“I like the bike lanes that are here. I wish they were cleaned more often, they’re full of debris and broken glass,” he said. “There’s lots of holes in the street that the city ignores. I could go on.”

The transportation department said pedestrian safety improved after similar changes at another set of intersections.

It reconfigured lanes on Pleasant Valley Road between Lakeshore Drive and Cesar Chavez Street, and found:

  • 82% reduction in injury and fatal crashes
  • 46% reduction in total crashes
  • 46% reduction in crashes involving people walking, bicycling, or riding scooters

The Barton Springs Road safety pilot would run for a year, with city staff expected to collect and evaluate data six months into the pilot to compare pre- and post-pilot data trends. Staff would analyze driver speeds, multimodal access, public feedback and vehicular operations.

The city is gathering public feedback on the proposal and concept design until the end of the month. A project update is expected in July, before it’s put into place, according to a city memo.

You can find more details on the proposed pilot online here.

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